A crackdown on children attempting to illegally enter the United States by Mexico and other Latin American nations has cut this year’s surge to a still-high 30,000, but proponents believe that has made the situation even more desperate for kids, leading to greater crime and deaths.

“Those that are fleeing and trying to get out of their countries are now using even more dangerous tactics with more criminal entities and costing them even more money to get through to safety,” said Kimberly Haynes, director of children’s services for Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service.

Baltimore-based LIRS is a key player in caring for unaccompanied children crossing into the United States and advocates for joining the kids with their parents already in the United States. Haynes told Secrets that those they have interviewed this year arrive with horrible stories of how smugglers got them through Mexico and into the United States.

Worse, she said, many arrive minus a brother or sister, believed to have died in the process.

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