Between Security and Compassion: Child Migrants in the United States
The summer of 2014 is often remembered as a critical moment when rising numbers of children appeared at the Mexico-US border seeking asylum, but in recent years, other turning points related to child migration have also occurred. In 2012, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was implemented to offer temporary status to migrants who entered with their parents without legal documents. And since 2008, rising deportations have led to growing numbers of US born children without one or both of their parents. These three groups of children fall in-between two polarized worlds related to security and compassion. One views minor migrant children as criminals and dangerous, the other sees them in need of compassion and assistance. In this talk, I present preliminary findings from a new project designed to shift away from polarized narratives and build a middle ground about migrant children. I begin by describing the history of government policies and practices related to child migrant resettlement and illustrate how shifts in policies and practices have helped set the foundation for today’s polarized narratives. I also describe the different groups of child migrants, how the US manages each, and what we know about their social and economic integration. Finally, I propose several child-centered initiatives that may shift the contemporary narratives by integrating both compassion and security.