New wave of migrant children caught at U.S. border travelled solo

MISSION, Texas -- The seven children had just crossed the river, shoes still caked with mud, when U.S. Border Patrol agents stopped them.

See Full Article

The youngest was 6, and he'd made the 2,000-mile (3,210-kilometre) journey from Honduras. Jon Smith Figueroa Acosta did not know where he was headed, but he had a phone number for his father in the United States.

"Estoy solo," he said, meaning, "I'm alone."

It was unclear how long the group had been travelling together, or who had brought them across the Rio Grande. There were two teenage siblings whose mother had sent for them after their elderly grandmother in Honduras could no longer care for them, and two teenage Nicaraguans.

Luis Arias Dubon, 15, said the trip required that he walk through much of Mexico for nearly a month. He left Honduras when he was threatened by members of the deadly 18th Street gang.

"They tried to force me into the gang," he said, adding that he was afraid they'd kill him.

The recent spike in the number of unaccompanied minors crossing the border brought U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske to the Rio Grande Valley sector this month.

"Historically, the numbers would not be at the levels we see right now," Kerlikowske said, standing in a warehouse where about 20 migrant children rested, wrapped in reflective plastic blankets. "The concerning part is, are we seeing the new normal?"

A total of 10,588 unaccompanied children crossed the U.S.-Mexico border in October and November, more than double the 5,129 who crossed during the same two months in 2014, federal statistics show. The number of family members crossing together, meanwhile, has nearly tripled, to 12,505.

Kerlikowske said his agency was better prepared to handle the influx than in summer 2014, when tens of thousands of unaccompanied children and families poured over the border.

Recently, two camps in North Texas have opened as shelters, housing 900 unaccompanied child migrants from countries that don't border the U.S., who under federal law must be handed over to the Department of Health and Human Services within three days of being detained. A third facility is on the way, which will hold another 200. The children are being sent north to prevent a backlog at the border, health officials said.

The child migrants must be cared for until they can be united with a relative or sponsor, where they remain until immigration courts can decide on their cases.

Mothers with children have described various reasons for leaving: fleeing gang or domestic violence, providing opportunities to study, reuniting with family.

Ester Franco, 38, of El Salvador, said she left with her two teenage daughters because they are of the age when local gang members start to accost young girls. She decided to bring them to Maryland, where her husband lives.

"I want them to be able to study," she said.

The journey through Mexico can be dangerous.

Marleny Gonzalez, a 24-year-old Guatemalan, was in the bed of a pickup truck with other Central American migrants when it overturned two hours south of Reynosa, Mexico. Gonzalez wasn't hurt, but her 4-year-old's legs were broken. The child was in a cast covering the bottom half of her body.

"Almost all my family is in the United States," Gonzalez, said, including her daughter's father. "I felt alone."

Given her daughter's precarious state, she wasn't sure now whether she would make the rest of the trip.


Latest Canada & World News

  • Thousands gather to march for gun control

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Summoned by high school students swept up in school violence, thousands swarmed into the nation's capital and cities across America on Saturday to march for gun control and ignite political activism among the young. Source
  • Thousands expected to leave second pocket in Syria's Ghouta

    World News CTV News
    BEIRUT -- Some 7,000 members of a rebel group and their relatives were preparing to leave eastern Ghouta to opposition-held areas north of the country Saturday as part of an agreement to evacuate the second of three pockets held by opposition fighters east of the capital Damascus, Syria's state media reported. Source
  • 'They blew it.' Economist Trevor Tombe on Alberta's budget: opinion

    Canada News CBC News
    Budget 2018 was a missed opportunity — in more ways than one. It was an opportunity to present Albertans with a credible plan to balance the budget. Source
  • How Cambridge Analytica stumbled into the spotlight

    World News CBC News
    That dirty tricks exist in the world of high-stakes politics will come as a surprise to few. Nonetheless, leaders of the global firm Cambridge Analytica captured headlines around the world this week as they breezily discussed the strategies for deception and manipulation of foreign elections on hidden cameras. Source
  • U.K. watchdog assessing evidence from Cambridge Analytica raid

    World News CTV News
    LONDON -- Britain's information regulator says it is assessing evidence gathered from a raid on the office of data firm Cambridge Analytica, carried out as part of an investigation into alleged misuse of personal information by political campaigns and social media companies. Source
  • Funeral service set today for slain Ajax, Ont., woman and her two children

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO - A funeral service will be held today in Toronto for a mother and her two children killed east of the city last week. Krassimira Pejcinovski and her 15-year-old son Roy Pejcinovski were found dead in their home in Ajax, Ont. Source
  • Ontario ticket takes Friday night's $15.5 million Lotto Max jackpot

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- A ticket sold in Ontario claimed Friday night's $15.5 million Lotto Max jackpot. The exact location of where the ticket was purchased has yet to be revealed. The jackpot for the next Lotto Max draw on Mar. Source
  • Students gathering for March for Our Lives gun-control protests in Washington, other cities

    World News CBC News
    Thousands of people are gathering in Washington on Saturday for a protest that organizers claim will be a defining moment in the long-simmering national debate over gun-control legislation. Organizers of the March for Our Lives rally are hoping to draw 500,000 protesters. Source
  • Student-led gun control protests expected to draw hundreds of thousands across U.S.

    World News CBC News
    Thousands of people are gathering in Washington on Saturday for a protest that organizers claim will be a defining moment in the long-simmering national debate over gun-control legislation. Organizers of the March for Our Lives rally are hoping to draw 500,000 protesters. Source
  • French hero officer who swapped himself for hostage dies

    World News CTV News
    TREBES, France -- A French police officer who offered himself up to an Islamic extremist gunman in exchange for a hostage died of his injuries, raising the death toll in the attack to four, and the officer was honoured Saturday as a national hero of "exceptional courage and selflessness. Source