This week our friends at Appleseed released the report: Children at the Border: the Screening, Protection, and Repatriation of Unaccompanied Mexican Minors, which exposes noncompliance with the 2008 federal Trafficking Victim Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA). TVPRA, which was intended to prevent human trafficking and exploitation, has not been fully implemented or followed at the U.S.-Mexico border, where Mexican children unaccompanied by an adult are often shuttled back across the border without protection or proper care. As a result, thousands of children are needlessly exposed to human trafficking by drug cartels and criminal gangs, or repatriated to potentially abusive and dangerous situations without having a reasonable chance to assert their rights to protection.
Appleseed’s investigation reveals that unaccompanied minors are routinely misinformed about their rights to make an asylum claim and appear before a judge. In addition, the TVPRA screenings are not being conducted in a manner or in environments that would indicate whether the minor is a potential victim of trafficking or abuse. The manner of interviewing minors doesn’t allow them to make a truly “voluntary” choice about whether to return to Mexico.
The report makes recommendations to significantly reduce the risks that these children face. To read these recommendations, download a full copy of the report here.
A team of 32 pro bono lawyers from Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP*, DLA Piper LLP*, Mayer Brown LLP*, and the Mexican firm Jáuregui, Navarrete y Nader S.C. spent two years investigating these border injustices, making 14 site visits in the U.S. and Mexico.
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*denotes a Signatory to the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge®