Photo: Children Illegally Migration on the Rise
During a conference sponsored by the United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, first ladies from Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala joined forces to raise awareness of the growing numbers of illegal immigration of unaccompanied children. The conference occurred one week after 100 undocumented immigrant children were taken to a dormitory at the Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.
Other local shelters and nonprofit facilities which typically house unaccompanied children were out of space. Last year alone, more than 7,000 undocumented migrant children were detained in the United States.
Mexico’s first lady, Margarita Zavala, along with Rosa Elena Bonilla de Lobo of Honduras and Rosa Maria Leal de Perez of Guatemala provided several reasons for the surge in unaccompanied children during the international conference, titled “On Their Own,” which was held at the Organization of American States. According to the first ladies, many of these children are attempting to find their parents or relatives that have already arrived in the United States. Some are looking to flee from dangerous or troubled homes and still others are avoiding gang activities.
According to Zavala, efforts are being made to reunite children with their parents while also improving educational opportunities and social services for these families. She believes it is imperative that all immigrants are educated in the dangers of illegal immigration as well as the realities new immigrants face upon arrival. This issue raises concerns as overall illegal immigration from Mexico to the United States is down most likely as a result of the economy and unemployment rate according to a study done by the Pew Hispanic Center.
Bonilla de Lobo stated at the conference, “Our children should have the greatest protection that adults and agencies can provide them.” According to Zavala, the majority of the unaccompanied children come from Central and Southern Mexico as well as other Central American countries.
The children at Lackland are undergoing evaluation and efforts are underway to reunite them with their families or find foster families. Legal counsel will be available for some that obtain refugee or protected status.