Friday, January 18, 2019: 5:15 PM-6:45 PM
Golden Gate 5, Lobby Level (Hilton San Francisco)
Cluster: Immigrants and Refugees (I&R)
Thomas Crea, PhD, Boston College
Children and families are migrating to the United States in record numbers, particularly from Central America, seeking asylum from increasing social instability, drug cartels and gang violence. From FY2012-FY2017, more than 270,000 unaccompanied immigrant children were apprehended and released under U.S. Government supervision. Yet, federal follow-up on these children is minimal and recent reports show that a significant percentage of unaccompanied children remain unaccounted for. In addition, the Department of Homeland Security has increasingly adopted the tactic of separating children from immigrant families and placing them in foster care, ostensibly as a deterrent to other families migrating to the U.S. While clearly counter to child welfare best practices, these tactics are not stemming the tide of migration – between October and March of FY2018, Customs and Border Patrol apprehended an average of nearly 6,700 families and over 3,600 unaccompanied children per month at the U.S. Southwest border. At the time of this writing, the unprecedented “migrant caravan” of families fleeing Central America has reached the U.S. border, seeking asylum.
In the current political context, there is a critical need to examine empirical data on the causes of migration and how children and families fare once they arrive in the U.S. The purpose of this symposium is to inform social work humanitarian practice by drawing on data collected within the various service settings that serve these children and families – foster care agencies, refugee resettlement organizations, and schools. Specifically, we focus on the low prevalence of unaccompanied children reported to be involved with gangs in their countries of origin (Paper 1). We examine the facilitators and barriers to integrating Central American youth in U.S. school systems (Paper 2), as well as outcomes related to employment (Paper 3) and self-sufficiency (Paper 4) for youth involved in the federal Unaccompanied Refugee Minor foster care program. We also explore the growing federal practice of immigrant family separation and best practices for addressing related emotional and psychological trauma experienced especially by tender age and young children (Paper 5). These unique studies use administrative data, primary data collection, and quantitative and qualitative methods for examining how asylum-seeking children and families fare after migrating to the United States.
* noted as presenting author