Numbers of Unaccompanied Minors Migrating to the U.S. from Central American Countries Surges

EcuadorAccording to a recent New York Times article, the number of unaccompanied minors attempting to make their way into the United States from Central America has significantly increased since 2011. The number of unaccompanied minors found entering the United States is “expected to reach 60,000 in the 12 months ending Sept. 30,” according to Lisa Raffonelli from the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

Although it is difficult to point to a single issue resulting in the increase, economic conditions throughout the region pushing children to look for more opportunity appear to be a significant factor in the surge. For example, Noemi Alvarez Quillay left her home in, where she lived with her grandparents after her parents left in a home with no running water.

Noemi’s case is not unique. “A generation of children who grew up on their own” have begun to leave. They are often given some help from their parents living abroad, in the form of close and small sums of money, but they still must travel thousands of miles unaccompanied. Noemi, for example, traveled 4,000 miles alone attempting to reunite with her parents in New York City before reaching a premature end to her journey in Mexico, where she died from an apparent suicide. A man, thought to be a smuggler, was detained in connection with her death, but a judge released him due to lack of evidence. Although an investigation into her death is ongoing.

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