Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Don't Lose Sight of Children's Rights at the US-Mexico Border

Much press coverage has been devoted to the fact that between 50,000 and 60,000 persons below the age of eighteen have been intercepted at the US-Mexico border, in the absence of any parent or legal guardian.  Many of these are boys between 15 and 17 years of age. Children are coming primarily from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador due to one or more of the following reasons: 1) poverty 2) violence and 3) family reunification.

Children’s rights specialists who serve on the ICRI’s Academic Council have differing perspectives on the best course of action regarding “unaccompanied minors” who do not have legal rights to be in the United States. They agree, however, on a few important points: Family reunification must be a top priority and cannot be overlooked as people scramble to define the “best interests of the child.” Moreover, decision-makers should be aware of past history when child refugees had difficult circumstances that were compounded, in fact, when custody was hastily transferred to non-parents. Legal consistency vis-a-vis children is crucial; haphazard and inconsistent enforcement of immigration law does violence to children’s rights to their natural parents and their origins.  (more...)

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