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'Progress' in slowing child migrations: US official

17 september 2014, 14:36
©Reuters/Jerry Lampen
©Reuters/Jerry Lampen

 The United States is making "tremendous progress" in stemming a recent tide of unaccompanied child migrants entering the country via Mexico, a top official said Tuesday, AFP reports.

"It would be premature to declare victory and to say that the problems are behind us because we don't know," said Alejandro Mayorkas, Deputy Secretary at the Department of Homeland Security.

"What we have achieved is tremendous progress" in slowing the flow of undocumented children arriving at the southern US border, the Cuban-born US official told reporters at the National Press Club in Washington.

Border officials in May apprehended more than 10,500 unaccompanied minors arriving at the southern US border, and about the same number in June.

That figure fell by about half in July, and last month it was down to about 3,100.

Most of the children were fleeing poverty and violence in the Central American countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.

Mayorkas reiterated the position of Barack Obama's administration that improving living conditions in Central America remains the best way to slow the influx of undocumented migrants.

"Victory is accomplished when these citizens that suffered violence... no longer think that their children need to flee seeking for relief elsewhere," he said.

The US has succeeded in slowing the flow of migrants by working with the governments of their Central American homeland countries, as well as with Mexico.

Washington also has ramped up efforts to get the word back to would-be migrants that they will be swiftly repatriated after making the treacherous and expensive overland journey.

Obama has promised to address the fate of America's roughly 11 million undocumented migrants.

However, domestic political concerns -- including strong opposition from Republicans opposed to granting amnesty to the migrants -- has forced the president to delay immigration reform until after November's midterm elections.

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