Policy Issues and Obstacles for Undocumented Migrant Children

  • Greta UehlingEmail author
Reference work entry
Part of the Geographies of Children and Young People book series (GCYP, volume 12)


Children migrating across international borders without parents or guardians pose a pressing humanitarian dilemma. On the one hand, as child welfare advocates point out, unaccompanied children are at great risk and deserve special protection as some of the most vulnerable migrants. On the other hand, security advocates argue that children who cross borders without documentation are still unauthorized migrants who pose a security threat to the United States. From this perspective, offering special protection may create additional incentive to attempt entry without documents. Unaccompanied children are therefore at the very center of our most pressing domestic and international policy concerns. Over the last two decades, the United States has developed and refined a set of policies and programs that strive to protect the migrating children while also maintaining national security. This article describes the risks faced by unaccompanied children, explores the evolution of the United States’ response, and identifies the key issues that merit further attention.


Human smuggling Human trafficking Unaccompanied children International migration Risk Protection National security Asylum 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Program in Comparative and International StudiesUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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