Mexico is facing “an escalating humanitarian emergency” stemming from “an unprecedented increase in migrant families” being sent back across the border after they arrive into the United States, this according to a report by the Los Angeles Times.
“Mexico has neither applied the resources or shown the will to deal with this,” Jorge Vidal Arnaud, Mexico coordinator for Save the Children, told the Times. “The situation for migrant families and minors in Mexico is very grave.”
According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), more than 150,000 migrant family members are in transit throughout Mexico. Many are staying in packed shelters and in “living conditions…in Mexico [that] could deteriorate further,” according to a statement from Jean Gough, UNICEF’s regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean.
The crisis that migrant families and unaccompanied minors, the Times writes, extends farther than just the U.S.-Mexico border.
Fray Gabriel Romero, who runs a shelter near the Guatemalan border, says his organization is getting close to helping 15,000 migrants this year, which was their total in all of 2018.
“[The Mexican government] is leaving these people alone, without help, and is also leaving us alone with this responsibility,” he says. Because of a new law implemented in January, Mexico is no longer permitted to house minors in immigration lockups.
According to the Times, Mexico plans to open 17 new migrant camps in some of its southern states to provide shelter for migrant families and children.
“The Mexican government does nothing for these needy people,” said Jonathan Hernández, who volunteers his time handing out food to migrants. “And the president of Mexico is never going to tell the most powerful country on Earth, ‘No, we won’t take them back.’”