Publication Date

Spring 4-13-2018


In the summer of 2014, unprecedented numbers of unaccompanied minors fleeing violence in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras arrived in the U.S. seeking refuge. Current U.S. immigration law affords certain legal protections to children who migrate alone from non-contiguous countries, allowing them to be initially admitted to the U.S. To avoid deportation and remain in the country long-term, however, they must successfully apply for humanitarian relief from deportation. This interview-based study traces these children’s experiences navigating this legal process and interacting with different branches of the US immigration bureaucracy.

Document Type



deportation, unaccompanied alien child, SJIS


Immigration Law | Law and Politics | Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility | Public Policy


SMU Tower Center and Latino Center for Leadership and Development