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Why so many migrant children are braving the journey across the U.S. border alone

Jennifer Podkul, senior program officer, Migrant Rights & Justice program, appears in this PBS Newshour report about why children are fleeing Central America.

Watch here.

Conditions slowly improve in Nogales for migrant children at border

NOGALES, Arizona – The conditions are slowly starting to improve for nearly one thousand unaccompanied migrant children sheltered at an impromptu holding center here, officials said Tuesday.

The children now have access to catered food, onsite showers, medical facilities for vaccinations and a makeshift laundromat after being shipped from overflowing detention facilities in Texas over the weekend, Nogales Mayor Arturo Garino told msnbc.

Some advocates argue that the heightened border security has had the opposite effect, with a focus on enforcement rather than stemming the problem at the source in the countries the children are escaping.

"It's really trapping kids in a burning house," Jennifer Podkul, senior program officer at the Women's Refugee Commission, told msnbc. "If they do have legitimate concerns, they should have access to a place that's safe."

Read the MSNBC article.

Surge of children fleeing gang recruitment in Central America creates crisis in U.S. shelters

The surge of children fleeing gang recruitment in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to seek asylum in the U.S. and other countries is a crisis comparable to Africa's child soldiers, a United Nations official said Tuesday.


"The demand for coming is so exorbitant that it makes it ripe for smugglers and traffickers to take advantage of the situation," said Michelle Brané, director of the Migrant Rights and Justice Program at Women's Refugee Commission.

Read the article in the New York Daily News.

Short-Term Border Facilities Holding Some Child Migrants Too Long

The federal government is scrambling to house a surge of unaccompanied Central American children and teenagers apprehended crossing the border illegally, many in Texas' Rio Grande Valley.


"Border Patrol stations were not designed for any kind of long-term custody," said Michelle Brané of the Women's Refugee Commission in Washington, D.C. "They are completely ill-equipped to deal with anybody long term, and they are particularly inappropriate for children to be in for any length of time."

Brané said such facilities have no showers, beds or recreation areas.

Read the full article in Fronteras.

More undocumented children arrive in Arizona in DHS bid to relieve crowding

The Women's Refugee Commission is cited in this CNN report on the uprecedented number of women and children fleeing violence in Central America and coming to the U.S. 

70,000 Kids Will Show Up Alone at Our Border This Year. What Happens to Them?

IN A DOORLESS desert safe house in northwestern Mexico, the drug traffickers sized up the boy—17 years old, 1,700 miles from home, gay, alone—and asked if he was too scared to strap on a load of marijuana and walk across the border into Arizona.

The kid—I'll call him Adrián—paused to consider his options. He didn't have any. Okay, he told them. He'd do it.

A Women's Refugee Commission report is cited in this Mother Jones article about the surge of chidlren fleeing violence in Central America and seeking safety in the United States.


Crossing alone: Children fleeing to U.S. land in shadowy system

Michelle Brané, director of our Migrant Rights & Justice program, is quoted in this article about unaccompanied children fleeing violence in Central America and seeking safety in the U.S.

Read the article in the Houston Chronicle.

Lackland to House Undocumented Children Again

Jennifer Podkul, senior program officer, Migrant Rights & Justice program, is quoted in this article about unaccompanied immigrant children being housed in Lackland Airforce Base.

"They [children from Central America] said to us look, 'If I stay in my country I am going to die, and if I leave I might die, but at least I have a chance of living,'" said Podkul.

Read more here.

Why Are More and More Children Walking Across the Border?

Through the story of 14-year-old Enedelia Arriaga, Mother Jones tells the story of an unprecedented surge of children crossing the American border alone. The article cites extensively from the WRC's report "Forced From Home: The Lost Boys and Girls of Central America," blending facts and narrative to give a fuller picture of their experiences.

Read the full article.

Immigrant groups complain of 'icebox' detention cells

The Los Angeles Times quotes the WRC's Jennifer Podkul in this article about the practice of detaining immigrants in frigid cells to pressure them to agree to deportation. Two California Democrats, Sen. Barbara Boxer and Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard of Downey, are pushing legislation to establish standards for the treatment of immigrants held in Customs and Border Protection facilities.

Read the story here.