Ninety-seven percent of the Guatemalan minors who have gone illegally to the United States have been turned over to relatives in that country, as the law provides.
Nevertheless, this program, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Health, does not guarantee that the children will not be deported in the future.
“Those who do not stay in the U.S. are very few,” said Jose Barillas, Guatemalan consul in Houston. “Of the 240 children I interviewed last week in a shelter, I only met one who was not going to reunify with a family, and that was because he had no relative here.”
According to the National Council for Attention to the Guatemalan Migrant, reunification does not guarantee a long-term stay in that country. “The minors are with their families temporarily, and are in a deportation proceeding. A judge will later review the cases and decide whether to expel them or allow them to receive an immigration benefit,” said Alejandra Gordillo of the National Council.
The Attorney General of Guatemala has announced that 1,797 minors were repatriated in 2014, but only 72 from the United States. ... Thelma Aldana, a state prosecutor, said at a press conference that charges of abandonment will be brought against parents who are shown to be responsible for permitting their children to travel illegally to the United States. ... Until now no accusations have been brought against coyotes (smugglers).
Note: Most of the 1,797 repatriated minors mentioned in the last paragraph were deported from Mexico by immigration authorities there.