WASHINGTON — Carlos Manuel Sada Solana, Mexico’s ambassador to the United States, told PJM that Mexican minors crossing illegally into the United States “are returned immediately to Mexico.”
According to federal government sources, migrant children apprehended by U.S. Border Patrol are transferred to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which places them with a relative living legally or illegally in the United States.
Solana was asked what steps the Mexican government is currently taking to discourage individuals from making the dangerous journey over the Mexican border into the U.S.
According to a Fusion analysis in 2014, a majority of the girls under age 18 who cross the U.S.-Mexico border, typically with the help of human traffickers, are raped and abused.
“Well, actually, there is not a lot of minors from Mexico coming. There is just the traditional number. What we are seeing is more from Central America and we are helping. We are having an alliance and we are having a special program with the United States and with the governments of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala,” he said following his appearance at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) conference in Washington. “So that we can help the kids because otherwise they have a lot of risks. And once they are in the United States we help them into these special places, shelters, so they are well-treated and then, according to the laws of the United States, they have to follow special procedures with regard to immigration. If they are Mexicans, they are returned immediately to Mexico.”
So far, the federal government has placed 33,347 illegal immigrant minors with relatives living in the U.S., which represents an increase over FY 2015 levels.
Once minors are apprehended at the border, federal immigration authorities transfer them to the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), an agency within HHS, which pays to house, feed and care for the children. Later, the ORR places them with a relative or “sponsor” living within the United States. The ORR does not check the immigration status of the relative.
The Associated Press has reported that the government places most of the migrant children with adults living in the U.S. illegally.
According to the official HHS website, “Federal law requires that ORR feed, shelter, and provide medical care for unaccompanied children until it is able to release them to safe settings with sponsors (usually family members), while they await immigration proceedings. These sponsors live in many states.”
HHS said “the sponsor must agree to ensure the child’s presence at all future immigration proceedings” and that the minor “reports to ICE for removal from the United States if an immigration judge issues a removal order or voluntary departure order.”
In 2014, the Washington Examiner reported that many migrants fail to attend their immigration hearings.
In April, U.S. Border Patrol uncovered the 13th drug-smuggling tunnel from Mexico into California since 2006.
“This is the largest cocaine seizure ever associated with a tunnel,” Southern California District Attorney Laura Duffy said.
Solana was also asked what the Mexico government is doing to stop the flow of illegal drugs coming into the U.S. from Mexico. In response, Solana said the drug problem is a shared responsibility between the two nations.
“Actually, we’re working together. This is something that is not solved unilaterally but multilaterally, in particular between Mexico and the United States, and we’re working on different fronts. There is a study that is going to be released also later on how to interdict and how to reduce the trafficking and the consumption of drugs, so it is a shared responsibility we always emphasize a lot,” he said.