Posted in The Guardian
A wave of Central American children are crossing the US border alone fleeing violence and poverty in their countries, new facilities to house these children are popping up with just a few days’ notice in southern border towns.
In October and November, more than 10,000 unaccompanied minors crossed the border through Mexico, more than twice as many as the same months last year. As a result, US detention centers have overflowed, and the government is building temporary shelters.
Children are largely driven by violence in the so-called Northern Triangle – El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras – and have more in common with refugees fleeing war than with immigrant workers. Each of those countries suffered civil wars during the 1980s, and never recovered from the legacy of violence; they now make up the most homicidal region in the world. Children – mostly boys – are often targeted for forced gang initiation.
The children present a complex situation to the U.S. towns where they land. They don’t worry that they are terrorists or murderers or drug kingpins. But that doesn’t make it easy to accept them in overwhelming numbers, according to Sweet, the Rockwall county judge. He’s the highest elected official in the county, in a state where the government of the United States has never been viewed as an agreeable guest. He blames the United States to some degree, he said. “It makes me so sad these kids have had to endure this,” he said. “But the same thing happened last year. And what did the [federal] administration change? Nothing. They changed nothing. So it has happened again.”