The Kids Aren't Alright: America Fails to Protect Youth in Crisis

Earlier this year, I sat in an immigration office in Nogales, Mexico, surrounded by children who had just been deported from the United States. All of the children I spoke with, ranging in age from 11 to 17 years old, traveled to the United States alone before U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested them. They spoke of being cold, hungry, and afraid while in American detention cells.

They were told to sign a form so they could be released, but none knew what it was. Jesus, a 16-year-old Mexican child, said, "They just put [the form] in our face and said ‘sign.' They wouldn't give us any information." The kids seemed stunned and still terrified, but they had already lost their chance to be heard in the United States.

A 2008 law, the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, provides that an unaccompanied Mexican child can only be repatriated to Mexico if she is not in danger there and has the capacity to choose to return. Otherwise, she must at least be given a hearing before a judge. In practice, however, the majority of Mexican children arriving alone are deported from the United States, often without anyone bothering to determine (as required by law) if turning them away would place them in serious danger. These screenings are the sole safeguard for many kids seeking help, but too often they don't happen at all.

Now some in Washington are suggesting that we expand this process to include unaccompanied kids fleeing violence in Central America – the same failed procedures that too often place Mexican children back into harm's way. But this would condemn even more children to danger.

The UNHCR interviewed 102 unaccompanied Mexican children and found that 64 percent had potential international protection needs, based, for example, on gang or cartel violence. According to a recent Refugees International report, violent activities in Mexico are at "their highest levels in more than 15 years." Children, in particular, are targets for kidnapping, assassination, extortion, and disappearances. Yet kids fleeing this violence are ignored and ejected at our border.

The ACLU interviewed 13 children in Mexico but only one, Hector, said he was asked any questions about his fear of returning to Mexico or if he wanted to see a judge. Hector recalls: "I asked if there was any benefit and the [officer] said, ‘No, there is probably no benefit. You just crossed through the desert so you're going to be deported.'"

This inadequate system should be reformed to better protect kids, not expanded to deny more kids their rights.

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from Richard, V...

Take those imbeciles pointing weapons at defenseless children, and please allow me to stick it up their ass or tie it in a bow - around their necks.
Pointing weapons of war at children is where I draw the line in the sand. I'm trained in hand-to-hand combat and still remember the maneuvers for dislocating or otherwise disarming the enemy.
When they train you as a hand-to-hand combat specialist they tell you that part of your job as a "good" warrior is to protect the children from enemy invasions.
I view those Bundy-esque guerillas as the Enemy, who have now made it clear they're willing to cross the line from insurgent to war criminal, and I would like nothing more than to take on the lot of them, reverse the situation, disarm them of their weapons and put them on the ground in record time. I don't need to use their weapons to accomplish it, but at this point would have no problem knocking them into a coma with it if need arises during the fight.
You don't point guns at children and babies, nor unarmed people and expect no consequences.


Thank you for an excellent article. I'm glad to see people speaking up about this situation. When jews were turned away during the holocaust, I wasn't alive, but now I am, so now I will speak up.


What about the rights of our current citizens? Our homeless families and children who are here legally and don't get the same help these illegal aliens do?

The difference between this and the Holocaust is that Jews were removed from homes where they rightfully lived and were placed into camps to die. No one is asking these people to leave their homes!! However, when it comes down to the welfare of my family and someone who broke laws to be here, my family wins every time.


Why do you advocate destroying the USA


Are you the ACLU or IACLU wanting to represent people illegally in the country?


I love how radical liberals support law breakers and hate their own country. I also love how the Aclu will only post articles written by left wing nuts.

Need an Account

Yeah no thanks on this one. I agree pointing weapons at unarmed people is tactless but unless it's declared that these people qualify for immigration via an asylum, then no way these kids should get a free pass into our country. It doesn't fly in other nations and there's zero reason why we should be expected to disregard our own laws and take in other people who come from a problematic nation when we still have a vast amount of our own people and legal immigrants that need help.

When I can't even get a run of the mill job because I'm considered "overqualified" yet it's somehow okay to give foreigners a "new start" above me? Yeah no that isn't the process in other nations and should not be here. It's a load of BS when an illegal immigrant drives a better vehicle than I do...back when I actually had one.

I generally consider myself "left wing" but the ACLU is in general in the right in many things but seems to disregard the law when it comes to favoring children. I'm sorry but someone's age should never allow an exemption from the law. Period. Human rights do not include a free pass into someone else's territory through a violation of it's immigration law.

What really needs to happen is the UN needs to get off it's rear end and actually be a the peacekeeping force they claimed to be. Why should the US be the only country to handle the burden? I do not oppose helping those central American nations in need of support to lower crime rates but it needs to be a joint UN effort since it's countries in need of help.

And please.... none of the rhetoric about the native Americans. They were a conquered nation that had been conquered via territorial expansion of illegal immigration from early in our nation's history and nearly wiped out the entire race. Because of that past does not mean those of us alive today over 250 years later we must remain silent or have no right to object to illegal immigration even if they are someone else's children sent here. I'm a US citizen, not a British national that came here illegally and started killing off the natives. Big difference there.

I say no to illegal immigration and supporting that many refugees with no plan of action to resolve the root problem back in their homelands which of course is a UN issue, not a US one. Their opportunities take away from the opportunities of people already here either by citizenship or legal immigration.

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