Mexico's new laws are being applauded by the United Nations and other organizations.

Por Alma Sacasa
Noviembre 13, 2020
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Credit: Getty Images

According to the Associated Press, Mexico is implementing changes to its immigration law that would prohibit holding migrant children in detention centers. The change is being applauded by the United Nations and other organizations. "The implementation of the reforms will help strengthen the system of childhood protection, benefiting the girls, boys, and adolescents in the context of human mobility, by guaranteeing them comprehensive compliance with their rights and making their best interest central," the U.N. said in a statement.

The new laws took effect on Wednesday. Under the new policy, Mexico shifts responsibility for housing child migrants and their families to the country's family development agency instead of the National Immigration Institute, which was previously responsible (that agency also runs the detention centers). Under the reforms, children will also have their legal status provisionally recognized to avoid the risk of immediate deportation before they have the chance to seek protective status.

The changes come a year after Mexico detained more child migrants than ever before, with most families coming from Central America. On Thursday, the International Detention Coalition and the Institute for Migrating Women released a statement that said Mexico detained more than 50,000 child migrants last year, mostly from Honduras and Guatemala. Between January and August this year, another 7,442 child migrants were detained.

Also on Thursday, Rachel Schmidtke, an advocate for Refugees International, published a report on recommended changes to Mexico's asylum process, saying that the reforms to protect child migrants were "an incredibly positive step for Mexico." "Although there are still several procedural fixes needed to strengthen the Mexican asylum system, this announcement provides fresh hope that Mexico is willing to do the work necessary to ensure that the rights of migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees are protected and upheld," Schmidtke said.