Since 2009, Mexico, Panama, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Belize documented a 435% increase in the number of asylum applications lodged by individuals from Central America’s Northern Triangle: El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.
Among those fleeing are a large number of unaccompanied and separated children escaping violence by organized armed criminal actors and violence in the home.
Pedro is one of these children.
Originally from Honduras, 17-year old Pedro became the target of one of Tegucigalpa’s most feared gangs.
He began receiving threatening phone calls and was stabbed twice one day while walking home from work. After the attack, he moved to his family’s town in the countryside but the threats continued.
Fearing for his life, Pedro paid a smuggler to take him to the US where he would reunite with his mother. At the southern Mexican border, the smuggler abandoned Pedro.
Left to their own devices, unaccompanied minors like Pedro that are making this dangerous journey face extortion, assault, and can easily fall victim to human trafficking. They are faced with many of the same dangers that caused them to flee their homes in the first place.
Fortunately, Pedro found his way to a migrant shelter where the Asylum Access Mexico team informed him of his rights and took on his case.
In October, Pedro was granted refugee status and is no longer at constant risk of detention, arrest, or deportation. With refugee status, Pedro can go back to school and rebuild his life in Mexico.
Written by Creative Lead Sandra ten Zijthoff
Photo credit: Damon Winter/NY Times