Forced From Home: The Lost Boys and Girls of Central America
Violence in three Central American countries is the primary reason behind a dramatic upsurge in the number of unaccompanied immigrant children crossing the border into the United States, and until conditions in these countries change substantially, this trend will be the new norm, cautions the Women’s Refugee Commission in Forced From Home: The Lost Boys and Girls of Central America, a report released this week.
Beginning in October 2011, an unprecedented number of unaccompanied alien children fromEl Salvador,GuatemalaandHondurasbegan migrating to theUnited States. From October 2011 to April 2012,U.S.immigration agents apprehended almost twice as many Central American children as in previous years. The Department of Health and Human Service’s Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), the agency tasked with the care and custody of these children, had a record 10,005 unaccompanied children in its care by April 2012.
In June 2012, the Women’s Refugee Commission and the law firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP conducted field and desk research to look into the reasons for the sharp increase in the number of children migrating alone and the U.S. government’s response, including conditions and policies affecting unaccompanied children. The Women’s Refugee Commission interviewed more than 150 detained children and met with government agencies tasked with responding to this influx.
“The majority of the children we interviewed said that their flight northward had been necessitated by the dramatic and recent increases in violence and poverty in their home countries,” said Jessica Jones, Equal Justice Works Fellow at the Women’s Refugee Commission. “Our independent research on the conditions in these countries corroborated what the children told us.”