EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Whereas it’s made it a point to swiftly find sponsors or family members for Central American kids crossing the border, the Biden administration continues to expel hundreds of unaccompanied minors from Mexico.
In a story first reported by El Diario, Mexican immigration officials disclosed U.S. authorities in El Paso have turned over to them 539 unaccompanied minors, some of them under 11 years of age, in the first three months of 2021. That’s in addition to 129 returned at the Presidio, Texas-Ojinaga, Mexico port of entry during the same time period.
The expelled minors have been taken to Juarez’s Nohemi Alvarez Quillay children’s shelter until they can be reunited with their families; most of the children at that shelter are from the Mexican states of Guerrero, Chiapas, Veracruz, Puebla and Oaxaca. However, some of the children are Guatemalans, Hondurans and Nicaraguans who told U.S. authorities during processing that they were Mexican citizens, Diario said.
Some migrant advocates contacted Tuesday morning by Border Report expressed surprise, as they were under the impression that the Biden administration was not deporting unaccompanied migrant children. Others said they’d heard the reports but had not independently verified them.
A U.S. Customs and Border Protection official confirmed Mexican minors are being repatriated in consultation with their consulate. He said this process is separate from Title 42, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention public health order allowing the rapid expulsion of unauthorized migrants, including some families with small children.
“Unaccompanied minors are turned over to the Office of Refugee Resettlement. We don’t expel minors under Title 42. But in the case of Mexican unaccompanied minors, they receive an interview by their consulate and their return to Mexico is coordinated with INM (Mexico’s National Migration Institute),” the CBP official said.
He said all unaccompanied migrant minors are initially taken to a Border Patrol processing center, such as the one in Northeast El Paso. Once there, the children are medically screened, an effort is made to identify name and nationality. “If they’re Mexican nationals, their Consul General’s Office has the opportunity to talk to them and that’s when those decisions (repatriation) are made in conjunction with the Mexican government,” the CBP official said. “They’re Mexican nationals going back to their own country.”
The numbers reported by the Mexican newspaper could not be immediately verified by U.S. officials.
The number of unaccompanied migrant children taken into custody at the U.S. border has doubled during the first two full months of the Biden administration, going from 9,271 in February to 18,663 in March.
In the El Paso area, the Department of Health and Human Services is operating an Emergency Intake Site (EIT) for unaccompanied migrant children. The facility inside Fort Bliss at last report was temporarily housing more than 3,800 children.