Migrant children sent back to their home countries from the U.S. and Mexico often face a situation worse than that which they were originally trying to escape, UNICEF said in a report published on Thursday.
“They are likely to experience an intensification of factors – violence, poverty, lack of opportunities, stigmatization, social exclusion and internal displacement – that drove them to migrate in the first place,’’ the agency said.
The idea that migrant children can simply be reintegrated into their communities is “more complicated’’.
It used the example of parents, often from Honduras, Guatemala or El Salvador, who pay around $15,000 to smuggle an unaccompanied child to the U.S.
Poor families often finance such a move by selling all their belongings and property or by taking huge loans and so children then have nowhere to which they can return.
They can end up in deep debt or be targeted by gangs, according to Maria Cristina Perceval, the UNICEF Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean.
That increases the chances that they will try to migrate again, she said.
Adults are also stigmatised by their communities and refused employment, the report said, “for having failed in their attempts to reach and stay in the U.S’’.
In some communities, girls, in particular, are stigmatized because there’s an idea that they have been subjected to sexual violence in the U.S. and are “somehow tainted”, according to Nadine Perrault, UNICEF representative in El Salvador.