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The criminalization of migrant children, the violation of rights as a migratory control strategy

In the context of US policies of "zero tolerance" for irregular migration, the separation of thousands of families and the confinement in detention centers of hundreds of forced migrant children by the current US government and its president implies de facto transgression of different legal orders (national and international).

On the one hand, when children are imprisoned and isolated, the following human rights of migrant children are violated: 1) to be with their families and parents; 2) to be free and not to be treated as criminals; 3) to have a dignified and secure life, regardless of their ethnic-national origins, their socioeconomic status and their migratory status; in fact, this last point would mean recognizing their right to request asylum.

As far as the US legal framework is concerned, in US immigration laws there is no indication of separating families or denying them the right to asylum, as part of immigration policy. The current government and its president, by dividing and imprisoning families, pass over the law, and not only do they not comply with it, but it transgresses it. De facto, the US government attacks and commits crimes against migrants and their children in their efforts to "contain" irregular migration.

The justification for these actions is based on a racist xenophobia and a biased, uninformed and prejudiced view of forced migration. The migrants, far from being supposed criminals who pretend to take advantage of the society and the North American government, are people moving in conditions of high risk and who had to escape from their countries due to extreme poverty, lack of jobs, violence and the aggressions of organized gangs and crime and natural disasters (such as hurricanes), which left them homeless and without means of subsistence. They did not go out for pleasure, but to survive and ensure barely basic living conditions.

In addition, the US has played an important role in the construction of this massive migration. Various North American governments of the past and present century, through interventionist policies and geopolitical control, contributed to the destabilization, precariousness and very low levels of development in the Central American region: in El Salvador and Guatemala, with support for counterinsurgency in the region. civil wars in those countries; with the deportation of the maras gangs to El Salvador, criminal groups that had originated in Los Angeles, California and are now one of the key actors that generate the widespread contexts of violence in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and the border South of Mexico; in support of the attack and coup of the progressive government of Zelaya in Honduras years ago.

All of the above served as a complex group of triggers to produce the exodus of thousands of Central Americans who, forced out of the home to survive, seek a dignified life outside their countries of origin.