Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Unaccompanied Child Migration to the United States: The Tension between Protection and Prevention

Unaccompanied Child Migration

A new report from MPI’s Transatlantic Council on Migration, Unaccompanied Child Migration to the United States: The Tension between Protection and Prevention, examines the question of how to provide protection for genuinely vulnerable migrants while rebuffing those without valid humanitarian claims.

Author Marc Rosenblum, Deputy Director of MPI’s U.S. Immigration Policy Program, traces the U.S. resource limitations and other constraints that have led to wait times of up to two years or more for unaccompanied minors to appear before an immigration judge—and how those delays, in tandem with a daunting mix of push factors in Central America that include violence and endemic poverty—have sparked this migration trend.

The report examines the policy responses by the U.S., Mexican, and Central American governments to respond to the surge, finding the multifaceted response a short-term success. Monthly arrivals of unaccompanied minors, which peaked at 10,600 in June 2014, plummeted to 2,400 by September. Assessing the first five months of arrivals for fiscal 2015, the report finds the child migrant flows are on pace for a 40 percent drop from the prior year. The report notes that the responses, while relatively effective in terms of deterrence, have not advanced longer-term solutions that could mitigate future flows or assist the reintegration of these children in Central America upon their return. The author offers a number of recommendations, including investment in security and economic development in Central America, changes to U.S. visa policy, and improved adjudication procedures across the region.

The report is the second in a seven-report series that draws from a recent Transatlantic Council meeting, “Refitting the Global Protection System to Meet the Challenges of Modern Crises.” Forthcoming reports in the series focus on a variety of current challenges, including the situation of Syrian refugees in Turkey, and propose innovative solutions to rethink global protection—including models that seek to transition refugees from dependence to self-reliance and the potential of labor mobility to facilitate refugee protection.


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