Grupos Beta: Background information when reading Lucky Boy

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Lucky Boy

by Shanthi Sekaran

Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran X
Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2017, 480 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 2017, 464 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Sharry Wright

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About this Book

Beyond the Book:
Grupos Beta

Print Review

In the beginning of Lucky Boy, as Soli makes her way from Mexico to the United States, she spends several nights in a relief camp set up by Grupos Beta, a service agency operated by Mexico's National Institute of Migration (INM), that offers water, shelter, medical aid, and information to migrants at risk.

There are currently 22 Grupos Beta operations in nine Mexican states: Baja California, Sonora, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Tamaulipas, Veracruz, Tabasco, Chiapas and Oaxaca. Started in 1990 as a kind of border patrol that protects rather than detains migrants, the basic role of the federal entity is to safeguard the human rights of migrants who might face serious dangers and health risks such as heat stroke, dehydration, and hyperthermia while traveling in Mexico.

Grupos Beta provides medical aid for migrants in need Among the many essential services provided are water and air rescue for people navigating the harsh environments of canyons, mountains, and arroyos. The organization also places blue flags to mark the path that will direct travelers to water stations, and to let them know that they are patrolling the area. Once migrants find their way to a camp, Grupos Beta delivers medical aid, food, showers, and shelter for up to three days as well as assisting those who need longer term facilities because they are sick or too feeble to travel further. Recruits are encouraged to undergo paramedical training. With a motto of "vocation, humanitarianism, and loyalty," Grupos Beta also provides information and orientation, letting migrants know the kinds of issues to anticipate.

The organization works with other entities such as Humane Borders, a faith-based initiative out of Tucson, Arizona, that sets up water stations; and Kino Border Initiative, a Jesuit organization dedicated to helping migrants and deportees. Amnesty International and other human rights groups have expressed concerns that Grupos Beta is not sufficiently funded to meet the needs of the hundreds of thousands of migrants in transit each year who are vulnerable to abuse by gangs, kidnappers, robbers and sexual predators. In the past eight years, there has been a tremendous increase in unaccompanied children and youth traveling from Central America who are at great risk for becoming lost, injured or falling victim to traffickers.

The Mexican government provides a list of the various Grupos Beta organizations that can be contacted so missing children can be reported, in the hopes of reuniting them with their families, placing them in shelter care or in the worst case, having their remains sent to next of kin for burial.

Picture of Grupos Beta in action from PHP Mexico

Article by Sharry Wright

This article was originally published in February 2017, and has been updated for the September 2017 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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