The arrival of unaccompanied migrant children has surprised again this year at the northern border of Mexico, where authorities have found groups of dozens of minors in the midst of US immigration restrictions.
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Mexican authorities and activists in Ciudad Juarez have detected that in recent months there has been an increase in the arrival of minors unaccompanied by adults attempting to cross into the United States, mostly from Central America.
Alarm bells went off among civil organizations last week when the National Migration Institute (INM) and the National Defense Secretariat (Sedena) reported the rescue of 57 unaccompanied children and adolescents from Guatemala.
The minors were on the highway from Chihuahua to Ciudad Juarez inside the trailer of a pickup truck, a condition that often leads to the death of migrants due to overcrowding.
The migrants were placed under the guardianship of the Subprocuraduría de Protección de Niñas, Niños y Adolescentes del Distrito Bravo, Chihuahua.
Despite the phenomenon, the director of the Casa del Migrante in Juarez, Father Javier Calvillo, lamented the government's inaction.
"The issue of migrant minors is not touched. Mexican authorities do not follow up on what happens to minors who are detained in the U.S. How do these minors get in? And, if the government says it regulates the migration issue, what happens to the children," the activist told EFE.
The INM reported in 2022 the "rescue" of almost 747 thousand migrants in an irregular situation throughout the year, of which more than 110 thousand were minors.
Of these, 14,270 were unaccompanied migrants and Mexico returned nearly 6,000 to their countries.
Following legal reforms in 2020, Mexican law provides that if a minor transits through the national territory, even if it is on the way to another country, the State becomes his or her legal guardian.
The uncertainty is greater for certain nationalities since the United States announced last month that it will take in 30,000 migrants from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela, but will immediately deport the rest who arrive by land under Title 42, a pandemic health provision.
In addition, in the last 5 years the United States has deported more than 217,000 minors to Mexico, according to Mexico's Migration Policy Unit.
On January 17, the two countries signed an agreement to expedite the reunification of migrant children who are in Mexican territory and have a parent north of the border.