Monday, September 27, 2021

The dangerous odyssey of children crossing Mexico to US

By Diego Armando Cruz

Matamoros, Mexico, Jul 7 (EFE).- Thousands of people mostly coming from Central America risk their lives every day crossing Mexico to find a better life in the United States, a growing percentage of whom are children and teenagers.

Julian Para Cortes, in charge of the Border Attention Center for Children (CAMEF) at the Mexican border city of Matamoros, told EFE this Sunday that in recent years the number of underage migrants has grown by 15 percent.

Most of the minors looked after at the CAMEF come from Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Venezuela, countries from which many caravans left last year to reach US soil.

According to the Mexican government, close to 43,000 underage migrants travel alone across Mexico.
Ruth, 17, left her native Honduras last May on her way to Virginia.

The teenager told EFE that the few job opportunities in her country plus the violence that reigns in the region were what made her decide to find a better life abroad.

Her odyssey, however, came to a halt recently in the northern Mexican state of Tamaulipas, where she was captured by migration agents and taken to the CAMEF, which is arranging her deportation to Honduras.

Also to be sent back is Eduardo, 7, who has traveled with his aunt the thousands of kilometers (miles) that separate Honduras from the border between Mexico and the United States, where he wanted to go to have “a house with a swimming pool and a motorcycle in the garage.”

The boy was just 15 minutes from trying to cross the Rio Grande in a boat, where several days ago the Salvadoran Oscar Martinez and his daughter Valeria drowned while attempting a crossing.

Since October 2018, the flood of migrants, in their majority from Central America, crossing Mexico to reach the United States has intensified.

Because of that exodus, US President Donald Trump announced late in May the levying of tariffs on all Mexican products as punishment for not stopping the migration.

But on June 7, an agreement was reached “in extremis” to avoid the tariffs in the form of a deployment of thousands of troops of the new National Guard to the Mexico’s southern and northern borders to control migration.