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By María Esther González Anaya


July 20, 2019, Ciudad de México.- In July of this year, the letters of migrant children and adults during an investigation cunducted by three Human Rights Watch lawyers, gave much to talk about. The stories of the children who stayed for weeks at the Border Patrol Centers show that they have been seriously damaged in mental health when they were forcibly separated from their parents and locked up in a famous kennel. Described in this way by themselves by it´s metal bars and the verbal abuse to which they were subjected.

“The kennel” is a processing center in Úrsula McAllen, receives this name for its wiring, according to the various stories of small migrants who denounced the abuses and ill-treatment of which these children were victims.

If the applicability of international law were strict, maybe unilateral acts would not exist and should be sufficient to close theses centers, and declare anyone who exerts force on a child “Incompetent”, and shou ld even be imprisioned for such inhuman acts. How is the International Law interpreted?

Obviously, Donald Trump´s policy was no longer so discreet; his machiavellian mentality left underlained the social and racial cleansing project that exists in his country.

Although there is no law for the separation of infants of their parents in conditions of illegality in the United States; There is an agreement that sets the standards for the conditions under which migrant children should be maintained. The Flores agreement was a judicial resolution of 1997 which prohibited minors from being locked up in restrictive centers.

To prevent the agreement being violated, Human Rights lawyers, who were required to identify children at risk, dicovered that none of the infants detained there were victims of trafficking or transported to be exploited, and since July 25, 2015, the Court had ruled that in the office of inmmigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) they violated The Flores agreement.

Except in specific conditions where it has been that the child is at risk, according to the principle of the United States Family Unit, no infant should be separated from their relatives, but the famous “Zero Tolerance” policy announced since May last year processes every human, for the fact of having entered that country illegally.

There is an executive decree that would supposedly put an end to family separations; How ever violence against migrant children is part of the harsh reality of our day.

Data from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) mentioned that 2,700 children were forcibly separated from their parents in May and June 2018.

On June 18, on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit portal on YouTube, was published a video that went viral, in which Sara Fabian, a Justice Department lawyer, before the Ninth Court of Appeal Circuit of the United States, justified why the US government did not give toothbrushes, soap and beds to detained migrant children.

The lawyer appeared for that court in San Francisco, and argued that the time in custody of the detainees should be much shorter, so she felt that hygienic safety utensils were not necessary.

Being denied and almost ridiculed by the judges of the Court of the Ninth Circuit, the lawyer mentioned feeling sorry for those statements and agreed to have touched sensitive nerves. For his part, the former governor of Vermont a Democratic candidate for the presidency, said the lawyer should be fired and avoid having another government job again.

In the face of these statements, it cannot be said that children are fully protected; the small economic refugees, expressed how traumatic it was to be inside those cages. The letters written by themselves, while they were detained for several weeks at the Immigration and Customs Agency (ICE); it shows perfectly how the infants´experience turned out to be extremely traumatic.

The overflow and capacity of shelters, especially in the United States, has criticized the situation of migrants, causing not only the psychological alteration of children and young people, but also has led to a higher percentage of rape to human rights.

Although the resignation syndrome, of deep catatonia, or snow white effect , as experts in Sweden also call it, is not yet part of the catastrophe that the migration in America is experiencing; other types of phatologies are leaving sequels to the victims.

Temporary autism due to traumatic experiences has not been documented at least in our country, however, some characteristics in the current migration of infants can cause disconnection with reality, with the conscious part of the brain, and the infant can stop talk, eat, walk or even open the eyes, as is the case with the syndrome described above.

The exodus in the current context contemplates other characteristics, very different from the previous ones; that although they are still latent, for the migrants minors of our continent the risk is greater, because as Cental America as the United States border have been classified as the most risky regions for those who move towards the supposed American dream.

It is true that migration has resolved some improvement in the lives of many migrants, but it has never guaranteed the trance to a quality life. In those children who were separated by the force of their parents, the affectation in their mental health can be progressive, because in the case of these children, the stress situations to which they have been subjected are repetitive, and the emotional imbalances were not immediately observed.

The Pathophysiology of chronic stress first causes a reduction in growth, then a possible adrenal gland hypertrophy then comes a thymus atrophy and finally an inhibition of reproductive function, to lead to suppression in the immune system.

The possible pathologies associated with these conditions are the decrease of antibodies, sleep disorders, cardiovascular disorders, diabetes, inflammation, among others, such as feeling anxiety; disorganized, agressive and impulsive behavior, fear or terror of adults and sadness; problems of self-perception and esteem; isolation or loneliness; frecuent headaches; either abdominal or vomiting.

For the OMS, stress is a determinant of health, and mentions that excessive accumulation of this affects mental health; it is only enough that it is significant for any subject.

Making a brief account of those children exposed to the migrant exodus, from the experience in their nation, they already carry a significant burden of stress, because, from their home nation, they do not have the mínimum guaratees of survival. They don´t migrate for nothing.

That is, in a fragmented family context; the change of roles in the family, when they have to be their livelihood; the vandalization that many face with crime within their cities of origin and domestic violence; as well as the aberrant confinement that made them pass in the kennels of detention in the United States, it will end up taking a toll on the boy or girl who decided or was taken by their relatives towards the famous American dream.

Without any psychological help or containment both intercultural and emotional; what will be expected of these children who have already mentioned in their various stories, what they have suffered, thanks to their retention and confinement in these cages.

However, the presence of new legal realities has shown that international law has not been able to face the difficulties of state voluntarism.

Silence, acquiescence and acceptance of such attitudes are of great importance, because the international created in 1969 Vienna Convention was not a negotiation, it was a consensus of several states, embodied in the drafting of said convention.

Even if the true intention of that state is not drafted in that unilateral act, the circumstances or statements of third parties must be used, in this case the declaration of the children, who expressed the various violations of their human rights, to evidence a pathological voluntarism.

Every act with and without negotiation has a legal scope.


Translator: Víctor Colín

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