Guatemala takes back 106 unaccompanied children and teen migrants

Guatemala takes back 106 unaccompanied children and teen migrants
Members of the Federal Protection stand guard in a makeshift camp for migrant people, outside the facilities of the National Institute of Migration (INM), in Tapachula, Chiapas state, Mexico, 03 January 2023. Some 2,000 migrants have improvised a camp since 03 January in the Mexican city of Tapachula, Chiapas state, on the border with Guatemala, a settlement they organized while they await their legal transit documents through Mexico. EPA-EFE/Juan Manuel Blanco

GUATEMALA CITY, March 8 (Reuters) - More than 100 children and teen migrants from Guatemala were flown home on Wednesday after being found in a truck trailer in Mexico headed to the U.S., one of the largest recent returns of unaccompanied minors back to the Central American country.

The flight to Guatemala City brought back 106 youths ages 12 to 17 who had been traveling without family, Guatemala’s migration institute said this week.

“We are very concerned because we are seeing returns of children and teenagers increasing,” said Wanda Aspuac, an official at Guatemala’s migration institute, noting many were teenage boys with only primary school education.

Guatemala had already received 430 unaccompanied minors from Mexico and the U.S. between January and March before the latest group was discovered by Mexican authorities in a trailer in the eastern state of Veracruz.

Most unaccompanied minors who reach the United States from Central America come from Guatemala, according to U.S. data of migrant encounters at the southern U.S. border, often fleeing deep poverty.

Speaking outside a Guatemala City migration office, Rony Saquil said his 17-year-old brother, Oscar, had planned to reunite with their father in Chicago, frustrated by the lack of schooling in their hometown, and would likely try the journey again soon.

“There’s nothing to help us get ahead … the school we’re at is three hours away on foot,” he said.

Another 17-year-old, Glendi, one of nine siblings, had also sought a better future than possible in her rural hometown, where she had only been able to get a basic education, said her aunt, Rutilia Bin Ich.

The girl had hoped to live with her sister who was already in the United States, and help provide for her younger siblings.

“Living in extreme poverty is really what led her to this path,” said Bin Ich.

By Sofia Menchu and Josue Decavele

(Reporting by Sofia Menchu and Josue Decavele in Guatemala City; Writing by Daina Beth Solomon; Editing by Sandra Maler)


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