So far there has been a 77 percent jump in the number of unaccompanied girls caught at the border this fiscal year, according to Pew Research Center.
That’s a drastic increase, especially when compared with the only slight swell in the number of unaccompanied boys who have been apprehended.
Broken down further, the biggest difference in apprehensions between the genders happens among teenagers:
The dire circumstances in these kids’ home countries might be to blame. When Fusion’s Jorge Ramos spoke with journalist Sonia Nazario about the dangers children face in Central American countries, she detailed threats of violence and rape.
These types of threats may account for the influx of young girls trying to cross the border.
The flood of immigrants crossing the border has created a humanitarian crisis, with politicians on both sides split over a solution.
As politicians continue to battle it out — possibly without any resolution — Central American leaders are converging on Washington. President Obama is slated to meet with the presidents of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador Friday at the White House, according to The New York Times.
During the meeting, he’ll reportedly push the leaders to do all they can to help stem the tide of migrant children coming to the U.S.
Asylum requests from Central America are skyrocketing, everywhere
The United States recorded the largest number of new asylum applications out of all countries of asylum, having received 85% of the total of new applications brought by individuals from [El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala] in 2012. The number of requests for asylum has likewise increased in countries other than the U.S. Combined, Mexico, Panama, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Belize documented a 432% increase in the number of asylum applications lodged by individuals from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.
nota bene: People are not applying for asylum in the US because they think it’s the best country ever (i.e., American dream). They are applying for asylum in the US because it’s the closest country they can get to that they think might be safe from extortion, forced gang recruitment, and/or death threats.
Yes, indigenous children are detained at the US border (but are they interviewed in their own language?)
“It is surprisingly easy for gringos to look past the reality of undocumented migrants as human beings, and most gringos imagine immigrants as caramel-colored, Spanish-speaking Mexicans, not indigenous, Q’eqchi’-speaking Guatemalans.”
"Don’t Just Pay It Back, Pay It Forward: From Accountability to Reciprocity in Research Relationships" in the Journal of Research Practice
Seriously, though, I haven’t seen one single news article that acknowledges that some of the detained immigrants don’t speak Spanish, much less asks questions about the quality of credible fear determinations that are not conducted in immigrants’ native languages.
I was starting to wonder if my expectations for media representation were unreasonably high. Nope.
This isn’t the clearest graph I’ve ever seen, but here’s what this recent report from the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR) reveals in its study of more than 400 unaccompanied minors who were held in US federal custody. Of 100 Guatemalan minors, more than 40 spoke one or more languages other than Spanish. The study did not sample for ethnicity (as it did for nationality & gender), but by chance 48% of Guatemalan children self-identified as indigenous (also ~5% of Mexican and 3% of Honduran children).
The study did not discuss whether any of these children spoke Spanish as a second language or whether interviews conducted in Spanish might miss key elements of claims for international protection / asylum.