Apr 15, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Migrants cite Mexican law as incentive for heading north

Monitored by a caretaker, young unaccompanied immigrants, ages 3-9, in a playpen at a Homeland Security holding facility in Donna, Texas, last month. Photo: Dario Lopez-Mills - Pool/Getty Images
Monitored by a caretaker, young unaccompanied immigrants, ages 3-9, in a playpen at a Homeland Security holding facility in Donna, Texas, last month. Photo: Dario Lopez-Mills - Pool/Getty Images

A Mexican law against the detention of minors who are headed to the U.S. border may unintentionally be encouraging more attempts by children to cross over.

The state of play: Teenagers from Honduras told Reuters they decided to cross to the U.S. through Mexico because of the law, which gives them temporary protection from deportation, as they felt safer making the attempt.

  • The law came into force in late January, before a record number of children crossing from Mexico were intercepted by U.S. border authorities in March.

Why it matters: Both the U.S. and Mexican governments are trying to lessen the hardships for unaccompanied minors who see migrating as their best choice, but are struggling to handle the influx.

Between the lines: Some of those children are being affected by the dangers along the way. In the recent case of a boy rescued in the desert by himself, his mother was kidnapped in Mexico, so he tried to cross alone.

What’s next: Vice President Kamala Harris said she’ll be visiting Mexico and Guatemala soon, while Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador will travel to his country’s southern border to talk to local politicians about ways to combat smuggling that affects children.

  • The Biden administration also faces a possible increase in crossings because of lawsuits against immigration measures, including a Trump policy of quickly expelling adults who crossed over illegally.
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