Grappling with Democracy
Based on years of archival research, primary interviews and observations across myriad sites including schools, homes and courts in Puebla, Mexico, New York City, and south Texas, this chapter places children’s migrations into a socio-historical context so that this phenomenon can be better understood as a byproduct of seemingly endless US (and foreign) interventions. Largely subsumed into accounts of adult and family migration where minors were assumed to simply be ‘luggage’ or following their parents, the trickles of independent teenage migrants that came before today’s waves have mostly gone ignored. Entitled to economic and physical security with and away from their families, these youths have actively responded to the ebbs and flows of interventions in their countries by immigrating for nearly a century; today’s Mexican and Central American teenage migrants are simply making the old new again.
In this chapter I will provide an overview of the global data on child migration, and explore how and why children travel in the regions covered by the various contributors to this book. At the outset, I acknowledge that data on international migration is not particularly precise or reliable. Statistics in many regions are scarce or non-existent, so that numbers are generally based on estimates. Specific data on child migration is even more difficult to come by. According to the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR) in its Global Trends Report 2015, only a few countries supply refugee data disaggregated by age. In 2015, data disaggregated by age was available for 21.2 million people only, which represented 33 per cent of the estimated global number of refugees. In this chapter I draw heavily on the ground-breaking report prepared by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in 2015, Uprooted: The Growing Crisis for Refugee and Migrant Children, which represents a laudatory effort to compile all of the data then available on the topic of children on the move around the world.
Agnes Olusese, Shamm Petros and Edwin Odhiambo Abuya
Humanitarian emergencies and displacement usually leads to disruption of families, which augments the vulnerability of children, exposing them to increased risks of sexual and labor exploitation, abuse and violence as they are separated from their care-givers. Kenya receives a significant number of refugees annually with a sizable portion being unaccompanied and separated children (UASC). In Kenya, a lack of sufficient and well-monitored alternative care options results in gaps that allow for the abuse and exploitation of refugee UASC, especially in urban areas where regulation by agencies is not as strict as it is in refugee camps. UASC in urban areas are largely cared for by non-profit and non-governmental organizations involved in child protection, with the government playing a minimal role. Unlike UASC in camp settings, UASC in urban settlements are marginalized by policy and social tensions, resulting in limited access to livelihood and protection services. Alternative care-givers are generally unverified, unmonitored and spread out all over the peri-urban areas, which complicates supervision and reporting efforts. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) plays a coordinating role with refugee children but their oversight is mainly on activities undertaken by implementing partners. Refugee children who end up in informal arrangements are not regularly supervised and are easily exploited and abused by their care-givers.
Mary Anne Kenny and Maryanne Loughry
This chapter considers the procedures used where there are disputes about the chronological age of an unaccompanied or separated child seeking asylum. The chapter considers how age is interpreted in terms of what it means to be a ‘child’ in the legal, social and cultural sense. Current methods of age assessment in different countries are considered against the international human rights framework. The chapter proposes a different approach to the contested area of age disputes that recognizes young people’s ‘transition’ into adulthood and posits that agencies and governments should provide support and services on the basis of assessed needs and vulnerabilities of the individual rather than on an assessed chronological age.
This chapter explores the phenomenon of legal transfers in the area of immigration detention and their impact on child migrants. It uses as a case study the apparent borrowing of these regressive immigration control measures between the United States and Australia. It also examines the subsequent spread of progressive case management alternatives to detention (ATD) models.