Migration Policy Institute
Children on the Run: An Analysis of First-Hand Accounts from Children Fleeing Central America
António Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
Followed by panel discussion with:
Javier Sagredo, Advisor, Democratic Governance and Citizen Security, Regional Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean, United Nations Development Programme
Leslie E. Vélez, Senior Protection Officer, U.S. Protection, Regional Office for the U.S. and the Caribbean, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
Kathleen Newland, Director, Refugee Protection and Migrants, Migration, and Development Programs, MPI
As crime and violence have increased dramatically in Mexico and Central America in recent years, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has tracked a notable increase in number of asylum seekers in the United States—both children and adults—particularly from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. A troubling new trend has emerged among those seeking asylum: the number of children making the treacherous journey alone and unaccompanied from these countries has doubled each year since 2010. And the U.S. government estimates 60,000 children will reach U.S. soil this fiscal year in search of safe haven. While the number of unaccompanied children from Mexico has far outpaced those from the three Central American countries, most are promptly returned to Mexico after no more than a day or two in the custody of the U.S. authorities, making it even more difficult to obtain a full picture of who these children are and why they are coming to the United States.
This event with UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres features findings from UNHCR’s report, Children on the Run, contextualizes the state of citizen security in the region, and includes a discussion on the humanitarian impact. The UNHCR study, based on interviews that a team of researchers did with more than 400 unaccompanied children, analyzes the reasons behind the growing migration of this vulnerable population and makes recommendations for a way forward.