Mexican immigration authorities are returning children that might qualify for formal protection from violence in Central America, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] said [press release] Thursday in a report [text]. The report states that by law “Mexico offers protection to refugees as well as to others who would face risks to their lives or safety if returned to their countries of origin,” but that less than “1 percent of children who are apprehended by Mexican immigration authorities” are recognized as refugees or offered other formal protection. The report also found that Mexican authorities apprehended 55 percent more children last year than in 2014 and 270 percent more children than in 2013. In addition, HRW found [Guardian report] that children are not guaranteed legal or any other assistance and those who are face prolonged detention in either closed facilities or “prison-like” settings. HRW found that a part of the reason why Mexican immigration authorities have apprehended more migrant children than before is that the US government has provided increased financial support to Mexico for immigration enforcement since mid-2014.
The rights of migrant populations has emerged as one of the most significant humanitarian issues around the world. Last month HRW announced the filing of an amicus brief [JURIST report] in a US federal court arguing that the failure of US government officials to appoint lawyers to represent migrant children facing deportation violates their basic rights under international law. Also last month the Court of Justice of the EU ruled [JURIST report] that Germany may place “residence conditions” on refugees. Also in March a judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of Indiana blocked [JURIST report] Governor Mike Pence’s order keeping Syrian refugees from settling in Indiana. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Indiana originally filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] on behalf of Exodus Refugee Immigration in November after Pence announced his plans to suspend resettlement of Syrian refugees in the state as well as assistance from state agencies.