Traveling along the border between the United States and Mexico can be very dangerous. Not only is it the domain of drug cartels and human smugglers, but those looking to enter the United States illegally face other daunting challenges fraught with difficulty. Chief among those difficulties is the terrain and the weather. Speaking specifically to these hazards, the U.S. border patrol is warning that it expects an increasing number of children to become victims of the journey over the coming summer months.
A Growing Problem
According to U.S. border patrol spokesperson Andy Adame, the agency is seeing an increasing number of children traveling alone and with their mothers – trying to cross the border into the United States.
Though the overall number of those captured while trying to enter the U.S. illegally is down, the number of unaccompanied minors is steadily increasing. For example, according to agency statistics in 2012 minors under the age of 14 accounted for just 17 percent of all detained people. By 2013 this percentage had jumped to 24 percent. And most shocking of all, the Mexican government recently announced that it had found 370 unsupervised migrant children in one week, all of which had been abandoned by the smugglers they paid to help them cross the border.
Young Central American Migrants
Contrary to popular beliefs, the vast majority of unaccompanied minors are not citizens of Mexico. Guatemala, and El Salvador, and Honduras are the countries from which the majority of these unaccompanied minors originate. As such, they have often been traveling for weeks, covering thousands of miles alone, before being detained by U.S. authorities at the border.
Authorities are worried that with the increasing temperatures of summer, and the continuing problem of a sometimes lawless border, these child migrants may wind up becoming unintended casualties of this perilous situation.