NEW YORK (October 18, 2019) – Nearly one million migrants were apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border, with the number of family and child apprehensions tripling, during the fiscal year 2019, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. As we reflect on the past twelve months, UNICEF USA is proud to have launched its first-ever programmatic support for asylum-seeking children in the U.S. and remains committed to protecting children uprooted from their homes. Whether children are in their country of origin, transit, destination or return, UNICEF USA holds steadfast in the belief that every child has the right to a safe and happy childhood. This work serves as one part of the regional approach to protecting children fleeing violence in Central America, building on UNICEF’s 70-year legacy of supporting the world’s most vulnerable children.
El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras have some of the world’s highest homicide rates, and poverty and corruption are also pervasive in the region. Many families and children embark on the perilous journey north, primarily to Mexico and the U.S., during which they are vulnerable to further violence, extortion and trafficking. Families and children face further obstacles upon arrival at their destination, including immigration detention, lack of access to due process, xenophobia and more.
In addition to supporting global migration work, UNICEF USA has administered grants to help fund the following in the U.S.:
- Respite centers at the border serving families immediately upon release from detention
- Full-time volunteer position to provide technical and operational support at border respite centers
- Support for unaccompanied migrant children throughout their immigration proceedings and the development of Best Interest Recommendations by a multi-disciplinary team that puts the best interests of children as the primary consideration
- A pilot case management program to provide a continuity of care for the most vulnerable pregnant asylum seekers
“Now more than ever, we must put children first to ensure they are safe and protected,” said Anucha Browne, UNICEF USA’s Chief Engagement, Advocacy, and Global Programs Officer. “UNICEF USA remains committed to protecting the rights of all children – underscoring that a child is a child regardless of migration status.”
UNICEF USA is also supporting technical assistance and training on mental health and psychosocial support, alternatives to detention, and cross-border case management to organizations in the U.S., as well as engaging with decision-makers to advocate for and support efforts that prioritize the best interests of children.
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The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) works in more than 190 countries and territories to put children first. UNICEF has helped save more children’s lives than any other humanitarian organization, by providing health care and immunizations, safe water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more. UNICEF USA supports UNICEF's work through fundraising, advocacy and education in the United States. Together, we are working toward the day when no children die from preventable causes and every child has a safe and healthy childhood. For more information, visit www.unicefusa.org.