As the plight of unaccompanied children crossing into the United States from Central American countries receives national attention, the National Journal looks at an aspect of the situation that has received little scrutiny: what happens to the children when they’re returned home, often to the violence and gang recruitment that so many of them were trying to flee? The National Journal spoke with Juan Sheenan, Catholic Relief Services’ country representative in Honduras, and others about the situation.
Once Central American children step back into their home country—often after fleeing gang recruitment, violence and poor economic conditions—they’ll need somewhere safe to go. And that’s a problem for the so-called Northern Triangle countries that have minimal social services in place to handle an influx of children returning from attempts at crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.
As some lawmakers call for speedier deportation, advocates say that without programs and protections in place, repatriation could prove futile ….
In Honduras, buses filled with families and unaccompanied minors caught in Mexico arrive in the country about three times per week, according to Juan Sheenan, Catholic Relief Services country representative in Honduras.
Quickly, they’re processed. The new arrivals are interviewed. Afterward, some head straight home to their communities; others stay in the shelter for no more than two to three days.
Catholic Relief Services works with partner agencies to provide a welcome kit with food, drink and money for transportation back to a new arrival’s home community, Sheenan said.
But if the children are sent back in droves, Honduran officials likely won’t have the resources to address the return of myriad planes filled with children, Sheenan said. It’s not as simple as saying, “Welcome Back.”
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