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What Kind of Welcome? Integration of Central American Unaccompanied Children Into Local Communities

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... A s illustrated above in the description of school settings, a significant and ongoing challenge for receiving communities across the U.S. is the creation of accessible and culturally responsive systems of care that meet the varied needs presented by unaccompanied youth. While much of public attention has focused on the number of children and adolescents crossing into the U.S. and the reasons for the influx, less is known about the organization and mobilization of community networks in support of the affected youth (Go-dziak, 2015). Despite the vulnerabilities posed by living in a constant state of fear and insecurity, these children deserve to be recognized for their resourcefulness, resilience, and "stories of overcoming" (Ehntholt & Yule, 2006;Henderson & Baily, 2016, p. 833;Michelson & Sclare, 2009). ...
... In addition to the difficulties many unaccompanied children experience in school relating to identity, fitting in, and discrimination by peers, a lack of support services may slow the pace at which they learn English. Knowledge of English has been identified as a critical measure of, and prerequisite for, successful integration, and it has been shown to correlate with upward mobility and attainment of economic, social, and cultural capital (Go-dziak, 2015). It is critical to address these issues in the educational context by increasing educators' and administrators' awareness regarding acculturative stress among unaccompanied children, implementing specific policies to promote English proficiency, and responding to and preventing all forms of discrimination. ...
... Furthermore, many children and adolescents are attempting this process of adaptation while also living with the psychological consequences of chronic exposure to traumatic events. Due to the prevalence of community violence in their countries of origin, it has been recommended that beyond offering instrumental support, integration programs for unaccompanied children address the psychological effects of being a witness and/or victim of violence (Go-dziak, 2015). ...
... Even though increases in the migration of unaccompanied minors to the EU and the U.S. have attracted media and policy attention in recent years, this migration is not unique; minors have migrated alone throughout history and these flows have been recognised by international bodies and conventions for over two decades (Goździak 2015). In the U.S., the passage of the Refugee Act of 1980 established permanent authority and a formal process for the admission of unaccompanied children (Steinbock 1989). ...
... But parents of higher social class background are not the only ones sending their children to other countries alone, albeit parents of different social classes do so for very different reasons. For instance, in 2010, Haitian children orphaned by a devastating earthquake were 'paroled' in and adopted by U.S. families (Goździak 2015). Thus, the contemporary influx of Central American minors has precedent in other cases of children's migratory flows that today can be defined as being comprised of unaccompanied minors. ...
... Furthermore, Central American children have been migrating without adult company to the U.S. for years (Chavez and Menjívar 2010;Goździak 2015), though not at the high rates of recent years. In this issue, Rodriguez, Urrutia-Rojas, and Gonzales (2017) compare these migrations in the past and present to highlight such changes. ...
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Thousands of minors are migrating unaccompanied to high-income countries. This special issue focuses on unaccompanied migrant minors from the Global South to Europe and the U.S. In this introduction, we seek to complement the contributions to this special issue by shedding light on what resources and experiences unaccompanied migrants arrive with, stressing these young migrants’ challenges at each stage prior to arrival and the challenges they face navigating the receiving context. We first clarify how the international community defines ‘unaccompanied minors’ or ‘unaccompanied children’. We then provide brief histories of unaccompanied minors in immigration flows to the U.S. and the EU. Next, we review the literature on the experiences of unaccompanied minors before, during, and after migration. Finally, we discuss key themes and insights from the articles provided in this special issue.
... Often, these experiences are revealed as youth adjust to living with families, after PRS referral decisions have been determined (Roth and Grace 2015). Research is lacking on unaccompanied migrant youth who do not receive PRS (Goździak 2015). ...
... Asylum applications submitted by unaccompanied youth have a far higher rate of approval at the San Francisco Asylum Office (86%) compared to Chicago (15%) (Taxin 2016). Disparities among unaccompanied youth in access to legal servicesand eventually legal statushave serious implications for young people's academic achievement (Goździak 2015) and psychosocial functioning (Roth and Grace 2015). Prior research with undocumented youth in general lends similarly documents the impact of legal status on a wide range of integration outcomes (Abrego and Gonzales 2013;Waters and Pineau 2015). ...
... Previous scholarship suggests that disparities among umy in access to legal services -and eventually a documented status-will adversely disrupt academic achievement (Gozdziak, 2015), psychosocial functioning (Dreby, 2012), cognitive 7 Lucia et al. (2014) provide a series of systematic estimates that identify how the modest cost to expand health services to all low-income Californians would be offset by an increase in state sales tax revenue and reduced spending on the uninsured. A recent study by Brown et al. (2015) found strong evidence that the government recoups much of its investment in Medi-Cal expansion to children through increased future wages, tax contributions, in addition to improved health and education outcomes that result in long-term cost savings. ...
... Estudios anteriores sugieren que las disparidades entre los jóvenes migrantes no acompañados en el acceso a servicios legales -y eventualmente a obtener un estado migratorio documentadocausan una disrupción en el rendimiento académico (Gozdziak, 2015), en funcionamientos psicosociales (Dreby, 2012), en el desarrollo cognitivo y en el Se necesita realizar mayor investigación para medir la fuerza de las intervenciones que promueven el acceso, uso, salud comunitaria y resiliencia de los uac, así como de los recién llegados. ...
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This article identifies areas for future study that have the potential to close the gap in knowledge about the health needs of unaccompanied migrant youth (UMY) in the United States. This article is divided into four sections. The first explores the structural reasons that fuel the migration of UMYs. The second section introduces the concept of structural vulnerability to comprehend how various structural and symbolic structures interact to create barriers to health access among migrant communities that may compound distress among UMYs. The third section features a discussion of California’s Medicaid program (Medi-Cal), and expansion of near universal health coverage for undocumented migrants. The fourth section identifies areas for future research to study the potential impact of possible reforms that aim to scale back health coverage, and the policy relevance of broadening affordable healthcare to the undocumented population binationally.
... A diferencia de los niños mexicanos, los migrantes de centroamérica son colocados bajo la custodia de la Oficina de Reasentamiento de Refugiados (Office of Refugee Resettlement [ORR] 2015). Durante un período de detención promedio de 35 días (Goździak 2015) los niños son evaluados, sometidos a procedimientos de deportación y detenidos en un asilo hasta que son tutelados por familiares o amigos con los que residen mientras esperan que sus casos sean definidos por los tribunales de inmigración de los EEUU. Con el reciente aumento de niños migrantes en el verano de 2014, el Departamento de Justicia ordenó que los tribunales de inmigración aceleren los casos de niños y familias no acompañados. ...
Article
En los últimos años, ha habido un aumento dramático en el núme- ro de niños migrantes no acompañados que tratan de entrar en los Estados Unidos. En 2014, la cifra total alcanzó un máximo de 68.000 detenciones, en su mayoría de Centroamérica y México. Desde enton- ces, el aumento de las estrategias de control de las migraciones en México ha disminuido la capacidad de los jóvenes migrantes no acom- pañados, para llegar a la frontera con Estados Unidos. Sin embargo, los factores subyacentes que impulsan la migración infantil no han cambia- do. Los niños siguen huyendo de altos niveles de violencia, en particular de El Salvador, Honduras y Guatemala, que actualmente están entre los países más violentos del mundo. Con todo, la violencia para los jóvenes no acaba una vez que salen de la frontera de sus países; como los jóve- nes toman autobuses, trenes, barcos y camiones al norte, ellos siguen encontrándola en cada paso, a lo largo del camino. Debido al aumento de la militarización y las políticas punitivas de inmigración en los Esta- dos Unidos, los niños migrantes luchan contra más violencia cuando cruzan la frontera de Estados Unidos / México. En este trabajo, exami- namos cómo las manifestaciones de violencia matizadas y variadas conforman las vidas y experiencias de los niños migrantes. Si bien la ju- ventud puede escapar de la violencia inmediata y corporal, explicamos cómo las diferentes formas de violencia influyen no sólo en su decisión de irse, sino también en sus viajes y sus encuentros con las políticas de inmigración de México y EEUU. Abogamos por una comprensión más amplia de la violencia que tenga en cuenta cómo las políticas y las prácticas estatales se extienden más allá de las fronteras nacionales y afectan negativamente la vida de los niños migrantes
... Mexican census data estimated stocks of around 50 and 68 thousand NTCA migrants residing in Mexico in 2010 and 2015, highly concentrated in workingages, especially 24 to 44 years (Masferrer & Pederzini, 2017). Central American migration to the US came into sharp focus in 2014, when more Central Americans, many of whom were unaccompanied minors, than Mexicans were apprehended at the Mexico-US border (Goździak, 2015;Rosenblum & Ball, 2016;Stinchcomb & Hershberg, 2014). However, the estimated number of NTCA migrants in irregular transit through Mexico had reached a similar high point in 2005, declined dramatically and then increased again post-2010 (Rodríguez, 2016). ...
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We analyze migration and demographic changes among the six countries of North America (NA) and the Northern Triangle of Central America (NTCA, i.e. Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador). Together, they comprise a long-standing South-North migration stream, with the United States (US) and Canada being the main destinations for Mexico and the NTCA. Studies that analyze the demographic effects of international migration in origin and destination countries have been limited. In order to fill this gap and explain the implications of recent changes in migration trends and demographic dynamics of the six countries, we study the interrelationship between future changes in the age structure associated with different migration scenarios. We use data from the United Nations World Population Prospects 2017 to compare the main demographic indexes and age structure indicators under two prospective scenarios: with and without migration. Current and projected population dynamics suggest convergence in fertility below replacement levels, higher life expectancy, and an overall aging process in the NA-NTCA region. Future migration may slow down the aging process in Canada and the US, have a small effect in Mexico, and speed it up in El Salvador. Taking both the size of the populations and the decrease in young age groups for the main sending countries we have studied, it is unlikely that international migration to the US from Mexico and the NTCA will reach the historic peak observed during the first decade of the 21st century.
... Asylum applications submitted by unaccompanied youth have a far higher rate of approval at the San Francisco Asylum Office (86%) compared to Chicago (15%) ( Taxin 2016). Disparities among unaccompanied youth in access to legal services-and eventually legal status-have serious implications for young people's academic achievement ( Goździak 2015) and psychosocial functioning ( Roth and Grace 2015). Prior research with undocumented youth in general lends similarly documents the impact of legal status on a wide range of integration outcomes ( Abrego and Gonzales 2013;Waters and Pineau 2015). ...
Article
Between October 2013 and July 2016, over 156,000 children travelling without their guardians were apprehended at the U.S.–Mexico border and transferred to the care of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). During that same period, ORR placed over 123,000 unaccompanied migrant youth – predominantly from Central America – with a parent or other adult sponsor residing in the U.S. Following placement, local communities are tasked with integrating migrant youth, many of whom experience pre- and in-transit migration traumas, family separation, limited/interrupted schooling, and unauthorised legal status, placing them at heightened risk for psychological distress, academic disengagement, maltreatment, and human trafficking. Nonetheless, fewer than 10% of young people receive formal post-release services (PRS). This paper addresses the paucity of research on the experiences of the 90% of children and youth without access to PRS. To bridge this gap, this article: (a) describes the post-release experiences of unaccompanied youth, focusing on legal, family, health, and educational contexts; (b) identifies methodological and ethical challenges and solutions in conducting research with this population of young people and their families; and (c) proposes research to identify structural challenges to the provision of services and to inform best practices in support of unaccompanied youth. [196 words]
... In contrast, Central American child migrants are placed under the custody of the Office for Refugee Resettlement (Office of Refugee Resettlement [ORR] 2015). Over an average detention period of 35 days (Goździak 2015), they are screened, placed in removal proceedings, and held in a shelter until they are sponsored by family or friends with whom they will reside while waiting for their cases to be determined by US immigration courts. With the recent increase in child migrants in summer of 2014, however, the Department of Justice ordered that immigration courts expedite the cases of unaccompanied children and families. ...
Article
In recent years, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of unaccompanied migrant children attempting to enter the United States. In 2014, total numbers peaked at 68,000 apprehensions, mostly from Central America and Mexico. Since then, rising immigration enforcement strategies within Mexico have decreased the ability of unaccompanied migrant youth to reach the US border. However, underlying factors driving child migration have not changed. Children continue to flee high levels of violence, particularly from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, which are currently among the most violent nations in the world. Yet, violence does not end for youth once they leave the borders of their countries; as youth ride buses, trains, boats and trucks north, they continue to encounter it along every step of the way. Due to increasing militarization and punitive immigration policies in the United States, migrant children contend with further violence when they cross the US/Mexico border. In this paper, we examine how varied nuanced manifestations of violence shape migrant children’s lives and experiences. While youth may be able to escape immediate and corporeal violence, we explain how different forms of violence influence not only their decisions to leave, but also their journeys and encounters with Mexican and US immigration policies. We argue for a more spatially expansive understanding of violence that considers how state policies and practices extend far beyond national borders to negatively affect migrant children’s lives. Resumen: En los ultimos anos, ha habido un aumento dramatico en el numero de ninos migrantes no acompanados que tratan de entrar en los Estados Unidos. En 2014, el numero total alcanzo un maximo de 68,000 aprehensiones, en su mayoria de Centroamerica y Mexico. Desde entonces, el aumento de las estrategias de control de inmigracion en Mexico han disminuido la capacidad de los jovenes migrantes no acompanados de llegar a la frontera con Estados Unidos. Sin embargo, los factores subyacentes que impulsan la migracion infantil no han cambiado. Los ninos siguen huyendo de altos niveles de violencia, en particular de El Salvador, Honduras y Guatemala, que actualmente estan entre los paises mas violentos del mundo. Sin embargo, la violencia no termina para los jovenes una vez que salgan de la frontera de sus paises; como los jovenes toman autobuses, trenes, barcos y camiones al norte, ellos lo siguen encontrando a lo largo de cada paso del camino. Debido al aumento de la militarizacion y las politicas punitivas de inmigracion en los Estados Unidos, los ninos migrantes luchan contra mas violencia cuando cruzan la frontera de Estados Unidos/Mexico. En este trabajo, examinamos como matizados y variadas manifestaciones de violencia forman las vidas y experiencias de los ninos migrantes. Mientras que la juventud puede ser capaz de escapar de la violencia inmediata y corporal, explicamos como las diferentes formas de violencia no solo influyan su decision de salir, sino tambien sus viajes y encuentros con las politicas de inmigracion de Mexico y EEUU. Argumentamos a favor de un entendimiento mas amplio y espacial de la violencia que tiene en cuenta como las politicas y practicas estatales se extienden mucho mas alla de las fronteras nacionales para afectar negativamente la vida de los ninos migrantes.
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