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Migrant Youth, Transnational Families, and the State

Migrant Youth, Transnational Families, and the State: Care and Contested Interests

Lauren Heidbrink
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 208
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  • Book Info
    Migrant Youth, Transnational Families, and the State
    Book Description:

    Each year, more than half a million migrant children journey from countries around the globe and enter the United States with no lawful immigration status; many of them have no parent or legal guardian to provide care and custody. Yet little is known about their experiences in a nation that may simultaneously shelter children while initiating proceedings to deport them, nor about their safety or well-being if repatriated.Migrant Youth, Transnational Families, and the Stateexamines the draconian immigration policies that detain unaccompanied migrant children and draws on U.S. historical, political, legal, and institutional practices to contextualize the lives of children and youth as they move through federal detention facilities, immigration and family courts, federal foster care programs, and their communities across the United States and Central America.Through interviews with children and their families, attorneys, social workers, policy-makers, law enforcement, and diplomats, anthropologist Lauren Heidbrink foregrounds the voices of migrant children and youth who must navigate the legal and emotional terrain of U.S. immigration policy. Cast as victims by humanitarian organizations and delinquents by law enforcement, these unauthorized minors challenge Western constructions of child dependence and family structure. Heidbrink illuminates the enduring effects of immigration enforcement on its young charges, their families, and the state, ultimately questioning whose interests drive decisions about the care and custody of migrant youth.

    eISBN: 978-0-8122-0967-9
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[viii])
  3. CHAPTER 1 Children on the Move
    (pp. 1-37)

    In November 1999, a fishing boat rescued a five-year-old boy clinging to a small raft in the waters south of Florida. His mother and stepfather died while traveling from Cuba to the United States when their vessel capsized. A fisherman took young Elian Gonzalez to the home of his great-uncle living in a Cuban enclave of Miami. For the next seven months, a transnational battle between family members, U.S. immigration enforcement, and Cuban authorities ensued, each claiming to serve Elian’s “best interests.” Family members in the United States claimed that a life of stability embodied by regular schooling, family, and...

  4. CHAPTER 2 Criminal Alien or Humanitarian Refugee?
    (pp. 38-62)

    The Refugee Act of 1980 recognized the needs of refugee children who are unaccompanied, creating special legal provisions for their acceptance into the United States via formal refugee resettlement processes. The act established and funded specialized programs through the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement (DHHS-ORR) for minors who are identified as refugees prior to entry in the United States. The State Department identifies refugee children living in UN refugee camps who do not have a parent or legal guardian. On arrival in the United States, refugee children are placed in ORR’s Unaccompanied Refugee Minor (URM)...

  5. CHAPTER 3 Youth at the Intersection of Family and the State
    (pp. 63-83)

    The relationship between the state, the family, and the child is a fundamental unit of analysis in society. The law and social norms that shape this triad inform the ways adults provide for and parent their children and the ways children are socialized into the community, allowing for social continuity over time and space. In the United States, the nature of this relationship has shifted over time as have the roles that children are recognized as playing in this relationship. When there is a perceived rupture in the social norm of the nuclear family, particularly in moments of crisis, such...

  6. CHAPTER 4 Forced to Choose
    (pp. 84-108)

    The study of migration invariably involves discussions of law—immigration processes, agreements between nations, human rights, and interventions of civil society—all related to the flow of people across national boundaries. In the exploration of child migration, the law provides an essential site for probing the tension between the unauthorized presence of migrant children and the social norms of children and the family embedded in legal discourses. The law is a potent force shaping the everyday lives of child migrants—where they circulate, how they engage with or evade the state, how and where they access resources and opportunities, with...

  7. CHAPTER 5 The Shadow State
    (pp. 109-134)

    In this chapter, we enter the labyrinth of federal immigration detention for migrant children called “shelters,” in which the federal government subcontracts with NGOs to provide for the everyday needs of children. At the point of apprehension, ICE makes a series of assessments. Is the child accompanied by a family member to whom they can be released? Is the child a Mexican national with no credible fear of return and thus imminently deportable? Does the child pose a threat to the community and warrant ongoing detention? Or, is the child unaccompanied by a parent or guardian necessitating transfer to the...

  8. CHAPTER 6 Reformulating Kinship Ties
    (pp. 135-155)

    “Born in the USA. Don’t take our moms and dads away,” the crowd chanted during a 2007 immigration rally in Chicago. With much anticipation, Saul Arellano took the stage. His mother, Elvira Arellano, had rallied a national call for immigration reform in the United States. Despite Chicago being a sanctuary city in which municipal funds are not used to enforce federal immigration law, in 2002 Elvira Arellano was arrested along with five hundred other unauthorized laborers in a raid of Chicago O’Hare International Airport, where she cleaned airplanes. Pleading guilty to document fraud, Arellano was ordered deported to her native...

  9. Conclusion
    (pp. 156-164)

    Since 2001, the state has invested record levels of human and financial capital to militarize the U.S.-Mexico border. Through institutionalized partnerships with local law enforcement and significant levels of foreign aid to Mexico to thwart thru-migration from Central and South America, the state has expanded the administration of federal immigration law. The normalization of vigilante groups such as the Minute Men alongside the proliferation of highly sophisticated and brutal transnational gangs mark not only the border but also the interior of the United States. As Gilberto Rosas argues, “the borderlands condition, or the coupling of exceptionality and political imaginaries, no...

  10. List of Acronyms
    (pp. 165-166)
  11. NOTES
    (pp. 167-178)
    (pp. 179-190)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 191-194)
    (pp. 195-196)