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Minors Who Sought Asylum With Their Families Now Return Alone

135 such children are in US custody and, for now, can't be sent back
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 27, 2019 9:20 AM CST
In this Dec. 11, 2018, file photo, an asylum-seeking boy from Central America runs down a hallway after arriving from an immigration detention center to a shelter in San Diego.   (AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File)
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(Newser) – Children as young as 4 are crossing the US-Mexico border alone in what CNN reports is a dangerous consequence of the Trump administration's policy of requiring some migrants to remain in Mexico while their immigration cases play out. Some 60,000 migrants seeking asylum in the US have been sent back to Mexico to wait out their cases under the policy dubbed Migrant Protection Protocols. Of those, some 135 have returned to the US as unaccompanied minors, to which the policy doesn't apply. Among them is a 16-year-old Honduran boy whose mother watched him swim alone across the Rio Grande last week. "I could feel his fear ... I'm comforted knowing he's safer now," the woman tells BuzzFeed, which reports thousands of migrants are living on the streets in parts of Mexico the State Department warns Americans shouldn't visit due to murders and kidnappings in the area.

CNN describes two other cases in which a 4-year-old girl and 8-year-old boy crossed the border alone. One asylum seeker told Amnesty International that she was kidnapped, then raped multiple times by Mexican police. At risk for crime, migrants are also "routinely exposed to a lack of clean drinking water and exposed to the elements on really cold nights," a rep for an NGO offering medical care to asylum-seekers tells BuzzFeed. The policy is also said to hinder migrants' ability to obtain counsel. Trump administration officials, however, say the policy is helping staunch the flow of migrants. In a Friday tweet, Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said officials working at the border confirmed "MPP works and is a game changer in addressing the ongoing border crisis." (Read more migrants stories.)

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