Manuel Mendoza holds his daughter, Angie, 4, in Tecun Uman, Guatemala, on January 29, 2019. The family, from Honduras, are waiting for their humanitarian visas to Mexico after two days of travel from Honduras.

Every child, regardless of borders, needs to be safe and protected. UNICEF has advocated tirelessly for children’s rights around the globe for more than 70 years and knows that children need to be seen as children, first and foremost.

Globally, UNICEF works to protect every migrant child by upholding six global principles

At UNICEF USA, we are deeply concerned about the safety and well-being of thousands of migrant children who are moving through Central America or Mexico, waiting at the U.S. border for their asylum claims to be heard or already in the United States. We have seen first-hand that immigration policies and enforcement procedures — including the arrest, detention and removal of non-U.S. citizens — can have significantly negative impacts on the lives of children. 

As U.S. citizens, we believe that the United States has the humanitarian desire and the moral responsibility to protect children and families — regardless of where they are from or where they are going.

UNICEF USA urges the U.S. Congress to pass legislation that makes the best interest of children a priority in any migration-related policy. This means:

  • ensuring children have a voice in their proceedings
  • keeping families together in the least restrictive setting
  • prioritizing a child's health, safety and well-being in all decisions

UNICEF also seeks to prioritize addressing the factors that uproot children from their homes in the first place. To help alleviate the root causes of the crisis, UNICEF is working with governments in Central America and Mexico to protect children from violence, crime and other threats, and to support education and health programs. But U.S. Government funding and policies are also needed to support and bolster these efforts.

We need your help to support several bills in Congress that help protect children and families, and address conditions in Central America. 

Please join us by contacting your federal legislators to urge them to protect refugee and migrant children.