Migrants who were detained recently in Monterrey, Nuevo León. Migrants who were detained recently in Monterrey, Nuevo León.

Family service agencies overwhelmed by flood of migrant youths

Desperate agencies send busloads of youths and families to overflowing shelters

Family service agencies (DIFs) have been overwhelmed by the recent surge of migrants under the age of 18, forcing authorities to send the youths to nonprofit shelters.

Between January 1 and March 21, the National Immigration Institute (INM) received 3,438 minors, both accompanied and unaccompanied by adults, while U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported the apprehension of 19,000 unaccompanied minors at the Mexico-U.S. border in March alone.

As a result, DIF offices have been overwhelmed by the young, mostly Central American migrants. In Veracruz, for example, the DIF in the capital city of Xalapa has lodging for only two to three migrant families.

“In Veracruz as well as Chiapas, the border states are saturated and turn-around has been delayed,” one DIF officer admitted in Veracruz. “It’s an incredible surge. Day after day, 30 to 50 families arrive, making for about 150 people [arriving daily].”

The officer said that families and unaccompanied minors are taken to nonprofit shelters based on instructions from the immigration institute, although the government does not have an agreement with those institutions.

One such shelter in Oluta, Veracruz, is overflowing.

“The shelter is full of children and families. The authorities bring them by the busload and then just leave. It’s a shame, same as in the U.S., but here it is 40 degrees. [Migrants are] poorly fed, poorly rested,” the administrator said.

In Nuevo León, the DIF has received more than 1,000 young migrants since January, up from 363 who were taken in during the entire year of 2020.

More than 171,000 migrants were apprehended by U.S. authorities at the Mexico-U.S. border in March, the highest monthly total in 15 years. One official predicted this week that more than a million migrants will arrive at the border this year, surpassing the 978,000 who arrived in 2019.

Source: Reforma (sp)

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