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Wednesday, February 28, 2024
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“What Occurs with Guatemalan Children Upon Their Return to Their Home Country?”-1

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Guatemalan International humanitarian and refugee organizations have directed their efforts towards addressing the increasing number of children deported back to Guatemala after attempting to migrate to the U.S.

Deportation Numbers and Challenges

In the past two years, more than 350 children have been deported from the U.S. to Guatemala, and over 10,100 have been deported from Mexico, many of them intercepted while heading to the U.S. However, these children often face significant challenges when they return to Guatemala.

Stranded in Distant Cities

When these children are sent back to Guatemala, they are frequently left in cities far from their remote villages, with no financial means to return home.

LIRS Opens Office to Aid Deported Children

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS), a non-governmental organization specializing in refugee resettlement, recently established an office in Guatemala City to support these children.

Providing Transportation and Support

LIRS now collaborates with families unable to afford transportation for their deported children, striving to offset the costs and help these children reunite with their families. The organization’s new office also offers vocational training and educational opportunities to improve the children’s and their families’ economic prospects.

Challenges Faced by Deported Children

The challenges faced by deported children are substantial. For instance, one 16-year-old boy deported from Mexico must now support his entire family in rural Guatemala after his father suffered a traumatic brain injury.

Guatemalan Children in U.S. Migration

While countries like Venezuela and Mexico contribute the highest numbers of undocumented newcomers to the U.S., more than half of unaccompanied migrant children entering the U.S. are from Guatemala, according to LIRS.

Vulnerable Employment and Aspirations

These Guatemalan children often end up working in the U.S. in jobs illegal for individuals under 18, such as meat processing. Social media exposure has fueled their aspirations for a better life.

Legal Protections for Unaccompanied Migrant Children

Unaccompanied migrant children arriving in the U.S. receive special legal protections under U.S. law, but they still face immigration court proceedings and potential deportation.

Efforts to Create Kids-Only Court Sessions

A bipartisan bill recently introduced in Congress aims to establish children’s-only court sessions with specially trained immigration judges to help children defend against deportation.

Balancing Deterrence and Compassion

The Biden administration is striving to strike a balance between deterrence and compassion in handling the deportation of vulnerable children, recognizing the unique nature of their situation.

Collaboration with the Guatemalan Embassy

The Guatemalan Embassy in Washington, D.C., is working with the Biden administration to enhance the safety of children in Guatemala and address the factors driving their migration to the U.S. Work opportunities and reuniting with family members in the U.S. are primary motivations for unaccompanied youth’s migration.

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