This chapter examines the evolving legal apparatus and increased emphasis on enforcement that make the lives of undocumented Central American children in the U.S. both tenuous and unpredictable. Some children were brought to the U.S. unlawfully by parents while others came alone or with smugglers to reunite with family who migrated for work. If apprehended by immigration authorities, they are placed in deportation proceedings and detained until their release to sponsors or removal from the U.S. Others may live in the shadows for years, equating long-term residence with legal status until they apply for a driver’s license or a social security number. Some follow deported family members to countries they left as children or remain in the U.S without their parents.
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