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The number of unaccompanied migrant children traveling through Mexico to the US has increased more than 800 percent from January to March of this year, with 275 minors arriving a day on average, according to a report.
The number of illegal immigrant minors in Mexico heading to the US rose from 380 in January to 3,500 by the end of March, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund, the New York Times reported.
“I was heartbroken to see the suffering of so many young children, including babies, at the Mexican border with the US,” Jean Gough, UNICEF’s regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean, told the newspaper after spending five days in Mexico visiting the border.
UNICEF’s analysis was based on numbers provided by Mexico’s National Migration Institute and other official sources.
The Biden administration is struggling to handle the thousands of children crossing illegally into the US and overwhelming federal detention centers, causing them to burst beyond capacity.
And the dramatic surge isn’t expected to let up anytime soon.
US Customs and Border Protection said the influx of minors at the border will continue for the next six months and could swell to 26,000 a month in September, further straining federal facilities.
UNICEF found that 30 percent of the migrants in many Mexican shelters are children and half of the kids made the trek without their parents.
Most of them started out in Central America, where they are fleeing poverty, gang violence and natural disasters, the report said.
“Most of the shelter facilities I visited in Mexico are already overcrowded and cannot accommodate the increasing number of children and families migrating northward,” Gough said.
Each day brings more images of children — some alone, some with adults — arriving illegally in the US.
Photos from Reuters show children and adults on an inflatable boat arriving in the US near Roma, Texas, after crossing the Rio Grande river under cover of darkness early Tuesday.
The children wearing brightly colored hoodies jump off the boat while the toddlers among them are carried by women to shore.
One photo shows a woman sitting on the bank with two young children in her lap.
In other images, a group of migrants huddle under a tree.
Others stand on the sandy bank, the adults holding the hands of the children, as they wait to be processed by border officials.
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