1st Edition

Undocumented and Unaccompanied Children of Migration in the European Union and the United States

Edited By Cecilia Menjívar, Krista Perreira Copyright 2022
    166 Pages
    by Routledge

    166 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book focuses on the migration of undocumented minors arriving recently to the United States and the European Union, flows that are often labeled ‘undocumented’, ‘illegal’, or ‘irregular’ and due to their sudden increase, they have been described in the media, policy circles, and scholarly work as a ‘surge’ or a ‘crisis’. Leading scholars examine the intricacies of the contexts that these minors encounter in the localities where they arrive, including the legal and ethical frameworks for protecting unaccompanied minors, governmental decisions about the ‘best interests’ of the children, these minors’ expressions of their own best interests or agency as they navigate immigration and social service systems, conditions in detention centers, and the health and social service needs in receiving communities.

    Though definitions and techniques for counting unaccompanied migrant minors differ between the U.S. and the EU, this book underscores the immigrant minors’ common vulnerabilities and strategies they adopt to protect themselves and improve their circumstances. At the same time, contributors to the volume highlight common challenges that both European and U.S. governments face as they develop policy strategies and legal mechanisms to attempt to balance the best interests of these children with national interests of the countries in which they settle.

    The chapters in this book were originally published as a special issue of the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies.

    1. Introduction

    Cecilia Menjívar and Krista M. Perreira

    2. Unaccompanied minors from the Northern Central American countries in the migrant stream: social differentials and institutional contexts

    Nestor Rodriguez, Ximena Urrutia-Rojas and Luis Raul Gonzalez

    3. Re-conceptualising agency in migrant children from Central America and Mexico

    Amy Thompson, Rebecca Maria Torres, Kate Swanson, Sarah A. Blue and Óscar Misael Hernández Hernández

    4. Deportation as a sacrament of the state: the religious instruction of contracted chaplains in U.S. detention facilities

    Gregory Lee Cuéllar

    5. Integration of unaccompanied migrant youth in the United States: a call for research

    Jodi Berger Cardoso, Kalina Brabeck, Dennis Stinchcomb, Lauren Heidbrink, Olga Acosta Price, Óscar F. Gil-García, Thomas M. Crea and Luis H. Zayas

    6. Best interests, durable solutions and belonging: policy discourses shaping the futures of unaccompanied migrant and refugee minors coming of age in Europe

    Jennifer Allsopp and Elaine Chase

    7. Outsourcing the ‘best interests’ of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in the era of austerity

    Rachel Humphris and Nando Sigona

    8. Better off without parents? Legal and ethical questions concerning refugee children in Germany

    Lars Hillmann and Annette Dufner


    Cecilia Menjívar holds the Dorothy L. Meier Chair and is Professor of Sociology at UCLA. Her research focuses on the effects of immigration law on immigrants’ lives, including family dynamics and separations, gender, social networks, religious participation, and belonging. She is the recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship (2014) and an Andrew Carnegie Fellowship (2017).

    Krista M. Perreira (BA, Pomona College 1991; Ph.D. UC Berkeley, 1999) is professor of social medicine at UNC-Chapel Hill School of Medicine and a fellow at the Carolina Population Center. Dr Perreira has over 20 years of research experience focused on understanding and improving the well-being of immigrant and Hispanic/Latino populations in the United States.