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Mexico planning to build shelters for unaccompanied migrant minors trying to enter the US

Kaylee Greenlee, DCNF

Mexico’s child welfare agency is working to establish 17 shelters for Central American migrant minors, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.

Shelters will open along the southern and northern Mexican borders as an increasing number of minors are arriving from Central America, the AP reported. Mexico’s child welfare agency will likely convert existing daycares and other facilities to temporarily house migrant minors.

“We have decided to strengthen actions on the southern border, it is better to take precautionary measures on the southern border, to protect children,” Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said, the AP reported.

Mexican officials are planning to open five additional shelters along the northern border shared with the U.S., the AP reported. Mexico limited the number of migrant children and families the U.S. could return to the country based on available shelter capacity in February, ABC News reported.

The Biden administration has opened several temporary facilities to house record numbers of unaccompanied migrant minors arriving in the U.S. Over 20,500 unaccompanied migrant minors were in Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) custody while another 2,700 remained at Customs and Border Protection facilities as of Wednesday, according to HHS.

Mexico’s child welfare agency currently oversees four shelters for unaccompanied minors near the U.S. border, the AP reported. This year, over 2,300 unaccompanied minors have reportedly stayed at the shelters. 

“The plan is to give unaccompanied minors shelter that is, so to speak, less aggressive, less complicated,” George Mason University Associate Professor Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera said, the AP reported. “One thing is the rhetoric and the intentions, but the real funding for the minors and the length of the commitment is another thing.”

Correa-Cabrera expressed concerns about the conditions in Mexico’s federally managed shelters after reports of abuse surfaced, the AP reported. It’s unclear whether the U.S. will offer funding towards the shelters.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials encountered over 172,000 migrants in March including nearly 19,000 unaccompanied minors and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the U.S. is on track to encounter more migrants in 2021 than in the last 20 years.

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