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Unaccompanied minors

According to figures issued by the Mexican National Institute of Migration and Naturalisation, every year 150,000 undocumented under-18s try to cross the border between Mexico and America in a bid to enter the USA. It is estimated that a third of them make the journey alone, without the company of an adult, relative or representative.

In 2009, 4,112 underage immigrants from Central American countries attempting to escape violence meted out by youths and family in-fighting, or holding the dream of a better life, were confined to immigrant detention centres in Mexico. Some are the victims of people trafficking and pay “coyotes” to help them reach their destination; the others try to find their own way of joining their families in the United States.

Whatever the case, this is a road packed with dangers for the mental and physical health of these boys and girls, offering no guarantee that they will meet their objective. And, even if they do succeed, that their expectations will be met or their rights as minors respected.