Human rights organisations allege that unaccompanied minors from Central America are being pressured into agreeing to an abbreviated deportation process, in contravention to their rights.
Human Rights Watch, an international non-governmental organisation (NGO), recently published a report alleging that human rights violations had been committed against Central American minors arriving unaccompanied at the US-Mexico border. The report, which is mainly based on interviews with Honduran child migrants, claims that although many of these faced serious threats in their home countries, less than half were referred by US Customs and Border Protection for a further assessment of whether they had a "credible" or "reasonable" fear of returning home. Human Rights Watch claims to have independently corroborated accounts of the specific dangers that its interviewees faced in Honduras, accounts which the group alleges should have led US authorities to give the cases sufficient scrutiny before the minors were returned to their home country. Should the allegations be proven, the US authorities would in effect be violating the principle of "non-refoulement" established by international law, which forbids the rendering of a true victim of persecution to their persecutor.
According to data from US Customs and Border Protection, 68,541 unaccompanied immigrant children were apprehended trying to cross the US-Mexico border illegally in fiscal year 2014 (October-September), a 77% increase from the almost 39,000 minors apprehended in 2013.The number of asylum seekers from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala has also skyrocketed. Recent data from the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) indicate that, although the US still receives most asylum claims from Central America, there was a combined 712% jump in the number of asylum applications from these three countries to Mexico, Panama, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Belize in the 2008-13 period.
Impact on the forecast
We do not expect that the US will revise its deportation proceedings in the wake of the allegations made by Human Rights Watch. We do not foresee any impact on international relations between Guatemala and the US and, as a result, have made no changes to our forecasts at this time.