The U.S. Mexico Southern Border


Currently the United States is dealing with the abundant problem of child immigration along the Mexican borders. While this has always been a problem within our government and society, the problem at the border has reached new proportions. “Tens of thousands of unaccompanied children have been arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border each year . . .  (Ghoshal et al.)” These children have been coming to the United States for many reasons, ranging from prosecution, and extreme violence to fleeing abuse, and reuniting with family.

In the U.S we describe an unaccompanied child as, “Under the age of 18 years old, without lawful status, and without an accompanying parent or legal guardian. (“Unaccompanied Immigrant Children”)” When these unaccompanied children cross the border they are usually caught and detained by immigration police. When unaccompanied children are detained they are faced with, “A confusing and complex court and detention system. (“Unaccompanied Immigrant Children”)” Deportation proceedings usually start in the jurisdiction where the child is being held within the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement. Once an unaccompanied child is released into foster care or a sponsor they are expected to find the paperwork to tell the court they have moved and are now in a different jurisdiction. This is regardless of age or legal representation for the child. If the child fails to do this for the court then they will be seen as purposefully failing to be seen in front of the judge. These unaccompanied children also do not have the right to a court appointed counsel leaving them to fend for themselves within the court system if they are able to get a court date and are able to figure out the proper paperwork on their own. 

In 2021 there were, “20,000 migrant children in shelters and detention. (Jordan)” This means that, “Migrant children crossing the U.S. southern border without a parent or guardian has overwhelmed the systems set up to care for them. (Ghoshal et al.)” This is leading to unaccompanied children not being released to their families or sent back to their home countries in a timely manner. This leads to many immigrant parents waiting for weeks, “to learn what happened to their children after they crossed the border.(Jordan)” 

An example of this is the story of Maria Ana Mendez written in the New York Times. Miss Mendez had left Honduras a decade ago to make money in the United States while her daughter was still very young. Once Miss Mendez settled down with a job in New York, she was ready to bring Cindy to America. Miss Mendez could not bring Cindy legally to America because she was undocumented.In February, Miss Mendez spent $8,000 to bring the now 16 year old Cindy to the United States illegally. 3 weeks later Cindy finally heard from her daughter she was being temporarily held in Donna, Texas.  She was sleeping on the ground, hadn’t bathed in 5 days, and was feeling sick. Days of not hearing from Cindy turned into weeks. Miss Mendez continued to call the U.S government hotline to try and find her daughter. Finally, on April 3rd, Cindy was able to call her mother from a hospital in San Diego, California. Cindy was very sick with the Covid-19 virus. Miss Mendez booked a flight to San Diego and was finally reunited with her daughter. After years of working, $8,000, and weeks of worrying about her child, Miss Mendez got to see her daughter for the first time in many years. 

Many parents have had to wait days, weeks, and months, to hear from their children after they crossed the border. Many children have crossed the American border alone with no parent or guardian, been detained in harsh conditions, while fighting the justice system to be able to see their parents once again. Kids have had to wait days, weeks, or months, inside detention centers. “Nearly 130,000 unaccompanied migrant children entered the U.S. shelter system in 2022. (Camilo Montoya- Galvez, pg 1)” These children may not all be held within the detention centers at the same time, and many are sent to foster care, or sponsors as soon as the chance is provided, if/when possible they would be sent to live with their parents instead. America has many unaccompanied children crossing the border from several countries, not all are caught and detained but most are. The children that are detained have little to no rights, and don’t always live in decent conditions. These children are divided into many possible circumstances for living once they leave the detention center and are in charge of taking care of themselves and their papers once they are released.