ONETrack International - Honduras children playing

Separated Children in the Migrant Caravan

Written by Jie Jin

ONETrack is keeping families together in the Northern Triangle

What is Happening on the Border

It is estimated that over 400,000 undocumented migrants cross the southern border of Mexico from Central America every year, and many of these migrants are stopped and deported. Nevertheless, they keep attempting to leave their home countries including Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador,

heading north to Mexico and the United States. In November 2018, a caravan marched across Mexico toward the United States. Most of the migrants in the caravan set their final destination the US, where they believe they will get higher salaries and live a better life than in their home countries. At the beginning of the new year, another caravan of migrants tried to cross the Guatemala-Mexican border, when they found the gates were left wide open. So, why do they try so hard to leave their homeland?

A Rising Tide of Immigration from Central America

The past few years have witnessed a growing number of immigrations to the US from Central America. Persecution, poverty, and gang violence in the region are the leading causes. According to World Bank, over 60% of the nine-million population of Honduras lives in poverty, and one in five people live in extreme poverty. Those who joined the caravan, dreaming of reaching the US one day, believe they can flee the poverty and violence, and improve their economic situations. As a result, tons of asylum applications keep putting pressure on U.S. immigration courts. Within 750,000 claims from Central America, though, only 10 percent are finally granted asylum. Facing the situation, some migrants are looking for alternatives, such as seeking refuge in Mexico.

Escape… into another Lion’s Mouth?

These migrants left home to escape economic hardships, but more difficulties await them along the way to the US. During last year’s border crossing, the migrants were teargassed by Mexican authorities when they tried to push through gates to enter Mexico. In Tijuana, where the caravan hoped to find entries to the US, local people protested against them by holding up “no to the invasion” signs- something particularly traumatizing to the children involved. In addition, as economic migrants. many are not regarded as refugees to enjoy protections when they arrive in the US according to international law. Those who cannot enter the US may apply for asylum and stay in Mexico, where the migrants face no better condition in practice. In 2017, Mexico received 14,596 claims, half of which remain unresolved still today.

Children away from Home

The trip is exhausting. Many migrants were traveling with their children, and the caravan became worn out after thousands of miles of trip on foot.

Even worse, children are detained and separated from their parents when the families reach the US, due to the “zero-tolerance” policy to criminally charge and jail the illegal migrants forcing the children to be kept in separate facilities such as holding cells, detention centers, and tent camps. Although the children are allowed to stay with relatives or foster carers in the country, the process can take  months.

Moreover, the separation can be permanent. The US government lost contact with nearly 1,500 immigrant children after sending them to sponsors. Many of these lost children came to the US without their parents’ company. A story told by BBC about a teenager who joined the caravan alone without telling her families just revealed how hard the journey from Honduras to Mexico is. During the trip, the girl fainted several times, because of the extreme heat and lack of food. She was sent to hospital, so she struggled to catch up with the caravan. When she arrived in Guadalajara, she decided to return. It took a month, longer than she had expected, for Mexico’s National System for Integral Family Development (DIF) officials to finally send her back home and reunite with her mom.

ONETrack International - Honduras children eating

To Build a Better Future for Them, You Can …

Having long been dedicated to orphan-care solutions, we, ONETrack International, are unwilling to see more children torn from their parents; and, we are determined to prevent unaccompanied minors from facing the dangers along the way that include abduction and exploitation. We believe that integrity is a family’s strength to fight against all sufferings. Those who have already left their countries can seek help from Honduras and Guatemala’s civil protection personnel, who can bring them home. We also advocate people who see children traveling alone in Mexico to contact organizations such as UNICEF Mexico and request humanitarian support, including protection, healthcare nutrition, safe water, and sanitation, to keep the children safe.

Life can hardly meet expectations in many areas of this world. Nevertheless, we believe that there would be less violence and poverty in countries like Honduras, if more responsible individuals and organizations engage and make contributions. ONETrack International has partnered with Helping Honduras Kids to provide orphaned and at-risk children in Honduras with an alternative pathway to a better life. We are helping these children grow up to be happy, healthy, and productive adults through encouragement, counseling, and education. With efforts as such, we hope to see more children smile and embrace a bright future.

We welcome generous individuals like you to join us and help children in Honduras. You can donate to ONETrack by following the link below. Again, we appreciate your support in making the world a better place.

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About the author

Katrina Bonwit is the Blog Content Manager for ONETrack International.