A new report released by the Georgetown Law Human Rights Institute highlights the many consequences of relying on immigration detention as central to migration management, especially in the case of children. The report, The Cost of Stemming the Tide: How Immigration Enforcement Practices in Southern Mexico Limit Migrant Children’s Access to International Protection, documents Mexico’s increased used of immigration detention and enforcement in response to recent increased migration by Central American children fleeing violence in their home countries to reach Mexico and the United States.

Despite the fact that international law establishes that the detention of children for immigration purposes is a child rights violation and never in the bests interests of the child, Mexico continues to rely on systematic or blanket detention, channeling more resources to enforcement operations to find and detain irregular migrant children. This has not only resulted in the arbitrary detention of children, but has also prevented children from exercising their right to request asylum and receive international protection. Children are often not informed about their right to protection or are afraid to ask because of the threat of long-term detention. Although some child asylum seeker cases are moved to institutional shelters, this is still detention as they are unable to leave or move freely in the community. Thus, children who do apply for asylum often end up abandoning the process because they can no longer stand being locked up. Mexico’s reliance on immigration detention means children are deprived of their liberty and eventually returned to situations of violence in their home countries, putting their lives at risk.

The report also notes how the United States has encouraged increased apprehension and deportation of children in Mexico by investing both politically and economically in toughening control mechanisms at Mexico’s southern border.

For this reason, in addition to recommendations for the Mexican government, the report also includes recommendations for the U.S. government, international organizations, and NGOs in Mexico. Among these is the overarching need to

“Implement alternatives to detention, so that no child’s liberty is deprived for immigration-related reasons.”



See Georgetown Law’s announcement of the report.

Read the full report

Read this Mother Jones article highlighting the report’s discussion of US pressure on Mexico.

Learn more and visit Mexico’s country profile from the Global Campaign to End Immigration Detention of Children

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