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Edited by Mary Crock and Lenni B. Benson

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Edited by Mary Crock and Lenni B. Benson

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Mary Crock and Lenni B. Benson

In this introductory chapter we identify themes that will be carried throughout the book. We begin in section 2 with a discussion of the human rights challenges presented by children on the move, posing questions that our contributors will address as they build on the themes we identify. This is followed by an examination of obstacles that have been created to recognizing child migrants as rights bearers. After setting out in section 4 a brief outline of the book’s structure, the chapter concludes with some comments on global initiatives that have been made to address the challenges associated with mass migration, on the one hand, and of forced movement of refugees, on the other. We will argue that the uncertainty and risks facing the world in the new millennium certainly constitute problems – but they also offer opportunities for positive change. Four foundational principles inform our discussion of how states should respond to children on the move. The first is that childhood is unique in that the status of being a child is transitory and (absent disabilities) the capacities of children evolve as children age. Second, it follows that children require special protection and assistance, most particularly in their younger and adolescent years, if they are to develop and thrive. The third point is that procedural accommodations should be made for children in recognition of the physical and cognitive stages of their development. The fourth and final principle both flows from and unites the three that precede it. It is that the treatment of child migrants matters because it has long-term consequences – both for the children themselves and for their host communities.

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Edited by Mary Crock and Lenni B. Benson

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Protecting Migrant Children

In Search of Best Practice

Edited by Mary Crock and Lenni B. Benson

Unprecedented numbers of children are crossing international borders seeking safety. Framed around compelling case studies explaining why children are on the move in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Oceania, this book explores the jurisprudence and processes used by nations to adjudicate children’s protection claims. The book includes contributions from leading scholars in immigration, refugee law, children’s rights and human trafficking which critically examine the strengths and weaknesses of international and domestic laws with the aim of identifying best practice for migrant children.
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Lenni B. Benson and Claire R. Thomas

In theory, United States immigration statutes offer many forms of protection and integration to foreign national youth. In practice, however, the ability of young people to access relevant special visa categories is frustrated by process barriers and the lack of adequate information and skilled counsel. Under US law, migrant children may seek protection as refugees; they may qualify for permanent residence if they have been abandoned, abused or neglected by a parent; they may be protected if victims of crimes or trafficking. In this chapter, we explore whether US domestic legal systems protect children’s procedural rights. We note at the outset that the US Constitution has been applied consistently to protect both citizen and foreign-born children with regard to fundamental rights such as education, safety and criminal punishment. Between October 2010 and October 2016, the US government initiated 177,561 removal or deportation cases against children. Of these, 41 per cent or 73,013 cases remained pending in mid-2017. This suggests that children are given time and process in removal proceedings. In this chapter we examine some of the reasons why ‘due process’ does indeed require time, as we explore measures that would greatly reduce the procedural protections that have been available.