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Canada; Central America; Mexico; United States: Agreement on Unaccompanied Children

(July 8, 2014) In June 2014, authorities from Mexico, the United States, Canada, and the Central American countries met in Nicaragua for the XIX Vice-Ministerial Meeting of the Regional Conference on Migration (a multilateral forum on international immigration) and announced that they had reached an agreement (the Managua Extraordinary Declaration) on a number of measures aimed at addressing the issue of thousands of unaccompanied children who are currently trying to migrate to the United States without immigration status. (Press Release, Embassy of the United States in Mexico, Ambassador Wayne and Central American Ambassadors Discuss Efforts to Address Unaccompanied Minors (July 1, 2014); Managua Extraordinary Declaration (June 30, 2014), Embassy of the United States in Mexico website.)

It has been reported that during the current fiscal year, over 52,000 unaccompanied minors have been detained entering the United States without immigration documents, which is approximately twice the number of children traveling alone and similarly apprehended the previous year. (Press Release, supra.)

The Managua Extraordinary Declaration indicates that the signatory countries intend to take several measures to address this issue, including:

· making resources available to protect unaccompanied children through consular networks and collaboration with civil organizations;
· considering that many families are encouraged to take part in the irregular migration of unaccompanied minors due to inaccurate information disseminated by human smugglers, pledging to reach out to their respective citizens in order to explain that immigration permits may not be obtained by these children merely by entering the United States without authorization, although some of them may be eligible to apply for refugee status; and
· promising to collaborate in order to locate human smugglers, with the purpose of combating the trafficking of unaccompanied minors. (Declaration, supra.)