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Multinational Task Force to Probe Child Migrant Crisis

  • VOA News

Edwin Lemus, 10, from El Salvador, sits in the men's section of a shelter providing temporary refuge to Central American migrants on their way north, in Arriaga, Chiapas State, Mexico, June 18, 2014.

Edwin Lemus, 10, from El Salvador, sits in the men's section of a shelter providing temporary refuge to Central American migrants on their way north, in Arriaga, Chiapas State, Mexico, June 18, 2014.

Top law enforcement officials from North and Central America are forming a multinational task force to address the massive influx of child migrants to the United States.

At a meeting in Mexico City with his counterparts from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder agreed on Tuesday to create a working group that will focus on the criminal elements behind child migration.

The team will review how to confront smugglers and cartels that profit from the routes through Mexico to the U.S. It also will look at the violent Central American gangs that prey on children as new recruits.

Recent data from the U.S. government show the number of unaccompanied children — primarily from Central America — has nearly doubled in the last year. More than 66,000 minors have been detained at the southwest U.S. border since October 2013.

According to a statement from the U.S. Department of Justice, the working group will hold its first meeting in the coming weeks.

The presidents and foreign ministers from the three Central American countries met with U.S. President Barack Obama in July. The U.S. government has pledged funds to improve conditions in the children's home countries in an effort to slow the mass exodus, which slowed in July and August.

Some information for this report comes from AP, AFP and Reuters.

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