Putting TRAC to Work
  Legal and Scholarly
July 18, 2022

“Asylum is Not for Mexicans”: Unaccompanied Youth and Racio-Governance at the US Border
By Rebecca Maria Torres, Sarah Blue, Caroline Faria, Tamara Segura & Kate Swanson

Since most are immediately returned at the border, Mexican youth comprise less than 3% of unaccompanied minors referred to ORR custody in contrast to children from Guatemala (40%), El Salvador (34%), and Honduras (21%) (2016 data, ORR 2016). This, despite that in 2016 (during shelter fieldwork period), they were 20% of the unaccompanied minors encountered at the border (US CBP 2021). If they do make it to the US, Mexican children seldomly have the opportunity to pursue asylum or other legal protections in immigration courts, despite the legitimacy of their claims. In 2016, they represented only 5% of unaccompanied juvenile initial immigration court filings. This compares with 33% Salvadorans, 37% Guatemalans, and 21% Hondurans that same year (TRAC 2021). When they do make it to court, many do not have lawyers only 49% of Mexican children had a legal representative at their initial filing in 2016. In this regard, Central American children did not fare much better, with only 47% of Guatemalans, 50% of Hondurans, and 66% of Salvadorans with legal representation that same year. Only a negligible percentage of both Mexican and Central American children (1–3% in 2016) are officially “granted relief” in US immigration courts (TRAC 2021). Of these nationalities, in 2016 Mexican and Guatemalan children received the highest proportion of removal orders (36% for each), compared to those from El Salvador (19%) and Honduras (31%) (TRAC 2021).

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
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