Donato, Katherine M., and Blake Sisk. “Children’s Migration to the United States from Mexico and Central America: Evidence from the Mexican and Latin American Migration Projects.” Journal on Migration and Human Security 3.1 (2015): 58-79. Center for Migration Studies of New York. Web. 16 Apr. 2015.
In response to the dramatic increase in unaccompanied, unauthorized child migrants from Central America in the summer of 2014, this article examines motivations and trends in child migration to the U.S. from Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua from 1987-2011. In their research, the authors find that a main factor in child migration from these countries is family reunification, because many have one or more parents living in the U.S. when they migrate. The authors suggest that these findings indicate that immigration reform should take into account this connection, and look into ways that children seeking to reunite with their families can immigrate legally to the U.S.
Dr. Katherine Donato is the Chair of Vanderbilt College’s Sociology Department, where she specializes in immigration, and Blake Sisk is a Ph.D. student in the department. The paper is clearly intended for those interested in immigration policy and reform, including academics and policy-makers. The authors of the study used data from the Mexican and Latin American Migration Projects (the MMP and the LAMP), which interviewed households in various communities from the different countries represented. By looking at people who immigrated as migrants from 1987 to 2011, they were able to take into account other U.S. immigration policy factors that may have influenced various trends, including the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) and the increased focus on security after 9/11.
While the paper provides interesting insight into the motivation for child migration to the U.S. from Mexico and Central America, the analyses from this data do not give much insight into the increase of child migrants from Central America in recent years, especially in 2014. While the authors conclude that family reunification is an important element in child migration and therefore immigration reform, one cannot generalize these findings to the child migrants from Central America These children may have immigrated due to violence in their home countries, making it a more pressing human rights issue for academics and policy-makers alike.
I chose this image to show the faces of the children behind the data described in the study. The juxtaposition of the immigration officer with the unaccompanied children shows the plight of the uncertain future of the children who made an incredibly dangerous journey in search of a better life.
Author: Sara Phelps
Tags: child migration, Central America, Mexico, U.S.-Mexico border, immigration reform, children, human rights