According to official data from the Mexican government, in 2022 US CBP identified over six hundred cases of Mexican children involved in the facilitation of irregular border crossings in the El Paso sector alone.
Beyond the numbers, there is troubling evidence concerning the forms of targeted violence the children face at the hands of those who recruit them, including transnational criminal organizations. Reports of threats, intimidation, excessive discipline, assaults, torture and even death have also been recorded. Embedded in deeply violent dynamics, the children may also be engaging in increasingly violent practices that impact the lives of the migrants who rely on their services, but also their own and those of their families.
This symposium brings together community-based advocates and researchers from both sides of the border whose work has documented the dynamics of the migrant smuggling market, and its reliance on the recruitment of child and young people’s labor in the El Paso-Juarez region. In addition to presenting data on smuggling on the US Mexico border, presenters will share their latest findings concerning the profile of the children and their experiences, and the work derived from community-based initiatives aimed to reduce recidivism among these children and their families
Mr. Fernando Loera - Coordinator of the Children and Adolescents Department at Derechos Humanos Integrales en Accion (DHIA)
Fernando Loera is the Coordinator of the Children and Adolescents Department at Derechos Humanos Integrales en Acción (DHIA) in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Trained as a social worker, and with a master’s in public administration, Mr. Loera has worked in public service and civil society circles for the last 18 years, designing, implementing and evaluating protection programming for children and adolescents facing houselessness, commercial sexual exploitation, addiction, teen parenting, and accompanied and unaccompanied migration. A professor at the Autonomous University of Ciudad Juarez, he is a pioneer in the community-based work with children who facilitate irregular border crossings in Mexico.
Ms. Blanca Navarrete Garcia - Executive Director Department at Derechos Humanos Integrales en Accion (DHIA)
Blanca Navarrete García, born in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, is a social worker by training, with a master’s degree in education. She was part of the founding team of the Centro de Derechos Humanos del Migrante, one of Ciudad Juarez’s first migrant advocacy centers, where she worked from 2001 to 2012. Alongside activist colleagues, Blanca founded in 2013 Derechos Humanos Integrales en Acción (DHIA), which has earned international recognition for its work on behalf of people on the move. As DHIA’s executive director, Blanca is in charge of the development of accompaniment and advocacy strategies for people in a mobility context. She is member of multiple boards, including the Kino Initiative, a Jesuit, binational project in Nogales Sonora/Arizona, and Plan Estratégico de Juarez, which promotes and defends the right to civil participation. Currently, she is co-coordinator of the Network of Migrant Shelters and Human Rights Centers for Northern Mexico.
Dr. Jaime Garcia - Researcher – FICOSEC’s Citizen Observatory of Prevention, Security, and Justice
Dr. Jaime Garcia has extensive experience in the study of risk factors conductive of targeted violence, including homicides and sex-related offenses, as well as drug abuse. As a researcher and lead of FICOSEC’s Citizen Observatory of Prevention, Security and Justice in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Dr. Garcia has overseen collaborations with the Ciudad Juarez’s municipal police, as well as Chihuahua’s state police and the Office of the State’s Prosecutor. The Observatory has co-designed public policy and civil society projects in the areas of prevention, security, and justice, seeking to contribute to the eradication of impunity.
Dr. Gabriella Sanchez - Research Fellow – Georgetown University’s Collaborative for Global Children’s Issues
Dr. Gabriella Sanchez is a research fellow at Georgetown University’s Collaborative for Global Children’s Issues, where her current work examines the participation of women, young people and children in the facilitation of irregular migration in the Americas and their engagement with technology, especially social media. With a background in law enforcement, Dr Sanchez is a frequent commentator for US and international media, and has conducted extensive field-based research for UNODC, IOM, UNHCR, ICRC, and US and EU government agencies, on the organization of migrant smuggling organizations on the US-Mexico border, the Americas, North Africa and Europe.