Minors, US Borders, and Welfare Check Questions
May 29, 2018 4:18 AM   Subscribe

What happens to minors at US borders is all over the news and I want to address my embarrassing lack of knowledge. I'd like to become more informed about what happens to kids in all different situations (legal or illegal entrance) and those accompanied by adults and those without. Specific links to current US policies would be helpful, as well as any history of this. It's difficult to find straightforward, non-biased information about this.

Under what circumstances are minors taken from parents, who decides where they are placed, and what should happen then? Are they supposed to get adopted? Are they made citizens? What agencies are involved specifically in separation, placement and followup? How long do wellness checks continue? How is this supposed to work and how have policies changed?

Please assume I am not trolling--I really have no idea how any of this is supposed to work and cannot find unbiased answers.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes to Law & Government (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
[Moderation note: please stick to factual answers, preferably with well-sourced, primary, if possible, links for support, and remember that Ask Metafilter is not for discussion, but directly answering questions. Thanks. ]
posted by taz (staff) at 4:24 AM on May 29, 2018 [3 favorites]

This Twitter thread (I know, I know) and the various replies (which range from interesting points of clarification to blatant Didn't Read TFA) might help you understand the current situation that's all over the news.
posted by soren_lorensen at 5:50 AM on May 29, 2018 [2 favorites]

The NYTimes and NPR both had explainers this morning, which cover what happens to children who arrive at the border with and without their parents, legal and illegal entrance to the country (note that approaching the border to ask for asylum is legal), and policies under the Obama and Trump agencies.
posted by damayanti at 6:12 AM on May 29, 2018

To clarify: I understand the missing children situation and am not looking for any further explanation of that. I would like to read the specific laws and agencies that apply to minors entering the US. Also, any non-firewall links would be better.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 6:12 AM on May 29, 2018 [2 favorites]

Ok, so there's policy and there's reality. Unaccompanied alien minors in the US fall under a slew of jurisdictions and agencies, depending on exactly what's happening. Sometimes these agencies work together, and sometimes they undermine one another. Sometimes they subordinate themselves to other, unrelated agencies without good cause (*cough ORR cough*) and sometimes they stand up for themselves.

For how things actually work on-the-ground, an excellent source is Susan Terrio's Whose Child am I? from UC Press. Link is Google Books preview.

For sources that explain some of the challenges of offering child protection, the Vera Institute of Justice has a pretty good overview of children in the immigration system: The Flow of Unaccompanied Children Through the Immigration System (on complication, see page 9, for example).

In addition, UC Hastings' Center for Gender and Refugee Studies have excellent resources. They will cover the legal aspects of protection and processes to larger or smaller degrees:

*CGRS and KIND's A Treacherous Journey: Child Migrants Navigating the U.S. Immigration System is one such resource.

*CGRS and the University of Lanús's Childhood and Migration in Central and North America: Causes, Policies, Practices and Challenges is another.

All of the last three should be open access to you.

(edit: to say that all three of the organizations here deserve your cash money if you feel inclined to donate and have the means.)
posted by migrantology at 1:36 PM on May 29, 2018 [2 favorites]

It looks like you've got some good information, but if you're interested in digging into this further, I'd also recommend Valeria Luiselli's Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in 40 Questions:

"Structured around the forty questions Luiselli translates and asks undocumented Latin American children facing deportation, Tell Me How It Ends humanizes these young migrants and highlights the contradiction between the idea of America as a fiction for immigrants and the reality of racism and fear—both here and back home."

I found it very informative about how the system works, and it's also moving and beautifully written.
posted by ITheCosmos at 3:56 PM on May 29, 2018

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