Undocumented and unaccompanied: children of migration in the European Union and the United States

Contributed by a member of the RISE Community • August 13th, 2019

New migration flows from the Global South today constitute increasing numbers of non adult, unaccompanied migrants. Although unaccompanied minors have participated in migratory flows in other historical periods, the current contexts of migration include new forms of immigration enforcement that rely on expanded collaborations and technology as well as different actors who facilitate migration. These contexts create new challenges and forms of vulnerability for these minors today. Child migrants often leave conditions of extreme inequalities, constraints, and risks with effects that are exacerbated by daunting obstacles and dangerous migratory routes. Thus, African children of various nationalities, Iranian, Afghan, and Iraqi children all cross the Mediterranean to arrive in the European Union (EU) with an accumulation of formidably difficult experiences similar to those with which Central American children arrive in the U.S. These children’s experiences position them differently and at greater disadvantage than past cohorts of childhood arrivals or other immigrants today.

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