On Mexico’s southern border, IDC supports alternative care models and strategies for strengthening local implementation of Mexico’s Migrant Children Protection Protocol
IDC Americas brought 2019 to a close with the third regional Forum for exchange and strengthening among local and federal authorities, as well as civil society organizations and international organisms working in support of migrant children. On this occasion the Forum was hosted in Chiapas, a state on Mexico’s southern border. The objective was to identify the obstacles and opportunities presented by the implementation of Mexico´s Migrant Children Protection Protocol, at all times preventing migrant detention in this population.
A video was screened at the beginning of the event, featuring the opinions and reflections of various young migrants currently living at a secondary reception facility. In this video, they talked about their experiences, for the most part traumatic, of having been locked up inside a detention centre for various lengths of time. This exercise served as a guide for the sessions and so that participants bore in mind the reasons why being deprived of liberty on migration grounds is incompatible with a child’s best interests.
In the first panel on best practices, Mexico’s Child Protection Authority [Procuraduría Federal de Protección] shared the work carried out in Tapachula, a city on the border with Guatemala, as a result of the mass movements of people entering through this city last year, featuring significant numbers of child migrants. For its part, the Comitán regional protection authority highlighted a success story in which a group of children were taken out of a migrant holding centre and placed in a secondary reception centre. Finally, SOS Children’s Villages [Aldeas Infantiles] spoke about how the organization had to adapt their care model to new necessities, which in this case include operating as a support centre for migrant children in primary and secondary reception facilities.
The Executive Secretary for Mexicos’ National Child Protection System [Sistema Nacional de Protección Integral de Niñas, Niños y Adolesentes, or SIPINNA] went over the process for creating the System’s Commission for Child Protection [Comisión de Protección de niñas, niños y adolescentes] and the adoption within the aforementioned Commission of the Migrant Children Protection Protocol as part of efforts to prevent children from remaining in detention.
Finally, the American organization KIND presented a system for the protection of children in the United States such that the authorities and civil society are aware of the options available to those children with family in the country.
The second working day was dedicated to discussions in working sessions which dealt with the various phases of the protection protocol, such as identification and evaluation, determination of best interests, restoration of rights, implementation of initiatives and the monitoring of “plans for life”. The working sessions showed consensus on topics such as a lack of both resources for protection authorities and available space for receiving migrant children. Specialized attention for different types of migrants was posed as a challenge, as well as the need to generate synergies with those individuals or entities that give support in each phase of the protocol.
Noteworthy among best practices are the efforts made by the protection authorities to work jointly with civil society in legal representation and in implementing plans for the restoration of rights, as well as in coordinating among authorities. This area highlighted the efforts made to obtain statistics for child migrant protection and to place them in primary and secondary reception centres.
Without doubt, these spaces serve to create support networks among those responsible for protection, in order to understand the processes and opportunities for advocacy, as well as to adopt certain commitments resulting in the local-level implementation of the protection protocol in support of liberating children from migrant holding centres within the framework of an alternative care strategy.