Authorities say the 106 children, many of them teenage boys, were traveling without family in search of a better life in the US.
More than 100 children and teens from Guatemala have been flown home after being discovered in a truck trailer in Mexico, one of the largest recent returns of unaccompanied minors back to the Central American country.
The flight to Guatemala City on Wednesday was carrying 106 youths aged 12 to 17 who had traveled to the United States without family, Guatemala’s migration agency said this week.
“We are very concerned as we see the return of children and teens on the rise,” said Wanda Aspuac, an official at Guatemala’s Migration Institute, who noted that many were teenage boys with only primary education.
Guatemala had already taken in 430 unaccompanied minors from Mexico and the US between January and March before the last group was discovered by Mexican authorities in a trailer in the eastern state of Veracruz.
Most of the unaccompanied minors reaching the US from Central America come from Guatemala, according to US data on unauthorized crossings at the country’s southern border. Many are often fleeing deep poverty.
Speaking to a migration office in Guatemala City, Rony Saquil said his 17-year-old brother Oscar was frustrated by the lack of education in their hometown.
Saquil explained that his brother planned to reunite with their father in Chicago, Illinois, and would likely attempt the trip again soon.
“There’s nothing to help us get ahead… The school we’re at is three hours away,” he said.
Another 17-year-old, Glendi, one of nine siblings, had also sought a better future than was possible in her rural hometown, where she could only have had a basic education, said her aunt, Rutilia Bin Ich.
The girl had hoped to live with her sister, who was already in the US, and help provide for her younger siblings.
“Living in extreme poverty is really what put her on this path,” Bin Ich said.