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Kids at the Border: Unaccompanied Child Migration from the Northern Triangle and Mexico

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Naval Postgraduate School Monterey United States

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In the United States, the issue of immigration, particularly illegal immigration, has had significant implications for national security, the political landscape, culture, and the U.S. economy. Current U.S. regulations and enforcement practices are clearly ineffective to meet the challenges surrounding the ending or containment of illegal immigration. Meanwhile, the issue of illegal immigration attracts even more attention and demonstrates the United States apparent inability to deal effectively with the problem. In2011, a surge of unaccompanied children under age 18 coming illegally from Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras were apprehended by U.S. immigration agencies at the U.S.Mexico border. This thesis takes a two-part approach to focus on the ongoing rise in unaccompanied children, starting with a brief explanation of why children leave their home countries and how they get to the U.S.Mexico border, following with the United States reaction to the recent surge in unaccompanied children. We ask if the United States is doing enough to address the problem of rising numbers of unaccompanied children in the context of changes and continuities in the Department of Homeland Securitys wider approach to illegal immigration. The solution requires policy reform that properly addresses socio-economic and security conditions in the region. This is done in an effort to produce a viable set of policy recommendations that lay out why the United States needs to do more, and what it needs to do in order to have an impact on the issue of unaccompanied children specifically and illegal immigration more generally.

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Technical Report



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Approved For Public Release;

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