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Unaccompanied minors stuck in limbo in Mexico as laws meant to protect stand in the way

Migrant caravan awaits next step
Migrant caravan awaits next step
Posted at 5:00 PM, Dec 31, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-31 20:00:44-05

TIJUANA, Mexico (KGTV) - Hundreds of kids are waiting at shelters in Mexico, unable to get their asylum application processed, according to lawyers.

They came with the migrant caravan in November. "Really quite brave of them to go through all of that," Lawyer Kara Lynum said. Lynum traveled to Tijuana with fellow lawyers from around the country in December.

While in the shelter during their five day stay, she says they saw huge gaps in resources for the kids, prompting them to create a GoFundMe page.

"So the money is going directly to Al Otro Lado, so they're going to use it to fund those needs, they're going to hire a teacher. They're going to hire a trauma counselor for the kids, enhance security in the shelter and then hopefully hire a lawyer too," Lynum said one of the biggest issues is getting kids' applications processed.

"There's that list for asylum seekers, and the kids can't get on that list," saying change needs to happen, "for the children, in particular, they should be able to walk up to the Port of Entry and start the process of asylum."

The roadblock, the law states anyone under 18 must have a guardian, to ensure the child is acting under their own free will.

"To know the background of this minor, I mean there's arguments that some of these kids are being trafficked. We don't know exactly where are there parents?" Immigration Specialist and Lawyer Lilia Velasquez said.

Lynum said many of the kids she encountered have relatives in the U.S. Velasquez said the kids' parents have to sign over Power of Attorney, "the minor brings an ID with a photo, the relative brings also an ID, maybe birth certificates, then they can verify if those kids belong to that family."

Back home in Minnesota Lynum thinks about the kids she met, wondering how they're faring, "I think about being 17 and a girl and you're by yourself and taking all of that on, is a big ask for these kids."