“My brothers are older, I don’t want to be a burden on them,” he said. “I want to be on my own. I came here to be on my own.”
Blake said children are often not just fleeing violence but trying to reunite with parents or other relatives in the U.S. Many do have family members who desperately want them. “Where there is a larger Hispanic population, that’s where these kids go – that’s why so many are in Phoenix,” Blake said. “But for all of these kids coming, their biggest problem isn’t always finding their family, it’s often trying to deal with the legal system and their immigration hearing.”
But older teens struggle in the U.S. on their own.
“When a young adult turns 18 and gets out of the detention facility or is placed with family and it doesn’t work out, they are often told there isn’t room for them in group homes and shelters,” Blake said. “Those who cross as teenagers struggle with the family reunification aspect when they realize it isn’t the dream they expected it to be because circumstances have changed, then they end up on the streets with no place to go.”