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.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • 'What has he been smoking?': Swedes scratch heads at Trump's suggestion of major incident

    World News CBC News
    Swedes have been scratching their heads and ridiculing U.S. President Donald Trump's remarks that suggested a major incident had happened in the Scandinavian country. During a rally in Florida on Saturday, Trump said "look what's happening last night in Sweden" as he alluded to past terror attacks in Europe. Source
  • Iran, North Korea officials: Let's strengthen relationship

    World News CTV News
    TEHRAN, Iran -- Officials from both countries say Iran and North Korea want to strengthen relations. A Sunday report by ICANA.ir, the news agency of Iran's Parliament, quotes parliament speaker Ali Larijani as saying: "We have always been after stability of relations with North Korea. Source
  • Snowblower sales surge as Maritimers dig themselves out of back-to-back storms

    Canada News CTV News
    HALIFAX -- Maritimers continue to dig themselves out of back-to-back snow dumps that have hit the East Coast. Some residents are still searching for their lawn ornaments after a series of storms clobbered Atlantic Canada last week. Source
  • Kenney works to consolidate lead as Alberta PC leader race enters homestretch

    Canada News CBC News
    The Alberta Progressive Conservative leadership race is in the homestretch and front-runner Jason Kenney says he's still running like he's 10 votes behind, but he's also looking past voting day. "I'm (now) on a month-long tour around the province to meet with as many elected PC delegates as I can," said Kenney in an interview. Source
  • Minneapolis woman shocked friend walked to Canada

    Canada News CBC News
    Saciido Shaie says something seemed to be weighing on her friend Mohamed Badal in the days before he vanished. Badal, a Somali man who spent months trekking four continents before landing in the United States, had been preparing to appeal a rejected asylum application when Donald Trump became president. Source
  • Flood fears renewed as another storm aims for California

    World News CTV News
    SAN FRANCISCO -- Officials are warning that residents returning to homes damaged by flooding should be prepared to evacuate again as yet another powerful Pacific storm takes aim at Northern California. Colusa County Assistant Sheriff Jim Saso said Sunday that floodwaters are receding in the farm community of Maxwell, where dozens of people sought higher ground during Friday's rain. Source
  • 'I am a Muslim too' rally held in New York City to show solidarity LIVE

    World News CBC News
    At least 22 more asylum seekers, baby, cross into Manitoba Sunday Source
  • How Yukoners reacted when most of their territory went without power

    Canada News CBC News
    Most of Yukon went without power for a few hours Saturday after a hydro unit in Whitehorse went offline. For nearly three hours, power was out in communities across the territory, with temperatures dropping to nearly -30 C in some of the affected areas. Source
  • Conservative leadership hopefuls draw crowd of 600 to Langley, B.C., debate

    Canada News CBC News
    Opposition to safe injection sites, ideas for a two-tiered health care system and Islamophobia, along with jobs and the economy, were alll topics touched on by 12 of 14 of the federal Conservative leadership candidates in the first of two back-to-back B.C. Source
  • You're fired! Trump administration official axed after criticizing The Donald [Video]

    World News Toronto Sun
    WASHINGTON — A senior Trump administration official was fired following criticism in a private speech of President Donald Trump’s policies and his inner circle of advisers. Craig Deare, whom Trump appointed a month ago to head the National Security Council’s Western Hemisphere division, was on Friday escorted out of the Executive Office Building, where he worked in Washington. Source