The Atlantic

The Trump Administration Is Closing the Door on Migrant Children

Requests for asylum by children, many of whom have no legal representation, are being denied at higher rates.
Source: David J. Phillip / AP

Gilberto Flores had to leave.

A teacher at his school in Jocoro, El Salvador, had just been dismembered by his own students after he was outed as a gay man. Gangs were dumping bodies in the streets around his home. Not long before, Flores had come out to his school as openly gay. His mother, who is still in El Salvador, didn’t think it was safe for him to stay.

He was 14 years old when he left his home in 2012 to make the long trek up to the United States. He spent two weeks on the road going through Guatemala and Mexico, smuggled on buses along with a group of about 10 others who wanted to come to America, all fleeing desperate conditions in Central America. His family had paid smugglers to transport him through those countries up to the U.S. border. That was the “pretty comfortable” part of the trip, he told me.

[Read: Trump’s deal with Mexico could make asylum next to impossible]

But then he came to the Mexican border town of Reynosa, where smugglers had established a station for migrants to congregate before crossing the Rio Grande near McAllen, Texas.

“There were so many people in those houses that you had to sleep on top of each other—literally,” he said. “You got fed twice a day, you were not allowed

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