Every week, hundreds of migrants make the dangerous journey from Latin America to the U.S. border. The journey is even more concerning for a group of children.
“The stories are all the same, their parents send them north because they want them to survive," said Margo Cowan with Keep Tucson Together. "Whether it’s starvation or the horrific violence in their countries of origin.”
Cowan frequently works with unaccompanied minors to prevent deportation.
“There are legal mechanisms that allow people to present themselves at the border and apply for asylum, and it shouldn’t be a hostile environment,” Cowan said.
Latin American families are making use of this legal process. Last week, the Tucson Sector of Border Patrol processed around 107 unaccompanied migrant children.
“Smuggling organizations will bring these people and children, sometimes toddlers to these places in the middle of the desert, in the middle of nowhere,” said Jesus Vasavilbaso, a U.S. Border Patrol Agent.
An agent at the Tucson sector says they don't usually deal with children migrants. Around 85% of migrants encountered at the tucson sector are adults that have to be tracked down and apprehended. Recent groups of children came from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, led by smugglers to turn themselves in to Border Patrol.
“The smuggling organizations sell this to the migrants saying that when you show up to the border, you just turn yourself in to Border Patrol, and they just let you in,” Vasavilbaso said.
But that’s not always how it works. The Tucson sector did a medical exam on each child then sent them to either health and human services or the office of refugee resettlement. Now those children have been sent to family members, child protective services, or back home.
This story was originally published by KGUN in Tucson, Arizona.