Refugee and Migrant Children
While images of separated and detained migrant children at the US-Mexican border have sparked concern and outrage in the media, the issue of how children who cross international borders should be treated has received remarkably little attention. This is particularly striking given that more than half of the world’s 70 million displaced people are under the age of 18. ISIM faculty focus their attention on refugee and migrant children through its teaching and research and seeks to provide solid research evidence as a basis for sound child-centric policies.
With generous support from the GHR Foundation, Professors Donato and Ferris have taught two experiential learning classes related to refugee and migrant children.
In the first (Spring 2019) Refugee and Migrant Families and Children: In Search of Best Practices, Professors Donato and Ferris developed a new experiential class that examined best practices for responding to children who arrive at a country’s border. Departing from the traditional model with professors lecturing and students taking notes, faculty and 22 students worked together in the class to assess practices affecting the protection and well-being of children. Students compiled existing international standards for refugee and migrant children, spoke with U.S. experts in child protection, and wrote papers on one country’s policies toward refugee and migrant children. The high point was a trip to Stockholm, Sweden, where students and faculty met with government officials at the national and local levels, academic researchers, representatives of civil society and UN agencies, and refugees and immigrants to learn how Sweden manages the admission and early integration of refugee and migrant children and families.
In the second class (Spring 2020) Refugee and Migrant Children: Mexico, the United States, and the World, Professors Donato and Ferris taught a class on policies and practices toward refugee and migrant children arriving at the U.S.-Mexico and in Mexico City. Students met with U.S. experts, academics and Mexican government representatives and read primary-source materials before traveling to the Mexico-U.S. border. (Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic made it impossible for us to travel to Mexico City.) Emphasis on Mexico was both timely and important given that it has shifted to a transit and destination country for many families seeking asylum. The class engaged students to think about humanitarian practices that support children traveling with or without their families, children with special needs, and those traumatized en route. Students examined whether and how refugee and migrant children were assisted in Mexico and the United States, with a particular focus on those originally from Central America, Cuba, and Venezuela.
Note that Professors Donato and Ferris plan to teach the class on Mexico and the United States in Spring 2021.
Professors Donato and Ferris are currently working on a monograph about unaccompanied migrant children.
“Children’s Migration to the United States from Mexico and Central America: Evidence from the Mexican and Latin American Migration Projects” (https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/233150241500300103)
“Crossing the Mexico-U.S. Border: Illegality and Children’s Migration to the United States” (https://www.rsfjournal.org/content/3/4/116.abstract)