Unprecedented numbers of children migrating without their legal guardian are being apprehended in North America.
In just the first five months of 2014 Mexican immigration authorities detained 4,239 unaccompanied children, representing almost half of all migrant children detained in 2013. Meanwhile, the US has seen an increase of over 90% compared to previous years with more than 57,000 unaccompanied migrant children apprehended since October 2013.
The International Detention Coalition (IDC) calls for urgent regional dialogue and a coordinated response, one that is based on guaranteeing the rights of these children and responsibly protecting their well being before, during and after the migration process.
“This is not a new phenomenon but one that has escalated to the point that the causes and impact of children being forced to move can no longer be ignored” observed IDC Director, Grant Mitchell.
According to Mitchell, “these children are in very vulnerable situations and their needs are multiple and diverse; some are in need of protection, some need to be reunited with family on destination, and others will be safely returned to their countries and supported as they reintegrate into the community.”
A durable solution for these children can only be achieved through a regional response that addresses core migration protection concerns. “No one country can deal with this alone, it requires the dialogue and coordinated efforts not only of governments, but also of civil societies and the communities of migrants themselves, of destination, transit and countries of origin together” said Mitchell.
In all actions concerning children, the best interests of the child should be a primary concern. Both international standards and existing research is clear: detention is never in the best interests of the child.
Accordingly, the IDC calls upon leaders to seek a regional response that will truly protect and resolve the cases of the tens of thousands of unaccompanied children currently awaiting their fate in US and Mexican facilities.