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Well worth reading

3 July 2014

“Children on the Run” (United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees).  This situation is neither new, nor unexpected (nor unprecedented) and while it is not going to be resolved without looking at the reasons for what the U.S. media calls a “surge” (suggesting a military invasion), those advocating some quick fix (like”send em back”) need to have some understanding of the reason the refugees cannot just go home without major changes in the region.  And that the refugees are not simply a U.S. “problem” but that other nations have stood up and done what they reasonably can.  Not enough, but something.

From the Executive Summary:

ScreenHunter_07 Jul. 03 17.16Since 2009, UNHCR has registered an increased number of asylum-seekers – both children and adults – from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala lodging claims in the Americas region. The United States recorded the largest number of new asylum applications out of all countries of asylum, having receiving 85% of the total of new applications brought by individuals from these three countries in 2012. The number of requests for asylum has likewise increased in countries other than the U.S. Combined, Mexico, Panama, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Belize documented a 432% increase in the number of asylum applications lodged by individuals from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. In the United States, the number of adults claiming fear of return to their countries of origin to government officials upon arriving at a port of entry or apprehension at the southern border increased sharply from 5,369 in fiscal year (FY ) 2009 to 36,174 in FY 2013.

Individuals from El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico account for 70% of this increase. Beginning in October 2011, the U.S. Government recorded a dramatic rise – commonly referred to in the United States as “the surge” – in the number of unaccompanied and separated children arriving to the United States from these same three countries – El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. The total number of apprehensions of unaccompanied and separated children from these countries by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) jumped from 4,059 in FY 2011 to 10,443 in FY 2012 and then more than doubled again, to 21,537, in FY 2013. At the same time, a tremendous number of children from Mexico have been arriving to the U.S. over a longer period of time, and although the gap is narrowing as of FY 2013, the number of children from Mexico has far outpaced the number of children from any one of the three Central American countries. For example, in FY 2011, the number of Mexican children apprehended was 13,000, rising to 15,709 in FY 2012 and reaching 18,754 in FY 2013. Unlike the unaccompanied and separated children arriving to the U.S. from other countries, including El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, most of these children were promptly returned to Mexico after no more than a day or two in the custody of the U.S. authorities, making it even more difficult to obtain a full picture of who these children were and why they were coming to the U.S.

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