Faculty Journal Articles and Book Chapters

ORCID (Links to author’s additional scholarship at ORCID.org)



The United States immigration system is especially difficult for children to navigate. Advocates commonly argue that this difficulty stems largely from the poor fit resulting from the application of a system designed for adults to the reality of the child immigrant experience. Advocacy efforts, including those that resulted in changes to detention policy and substantive immigration law regarding Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC), therefore focus on modifying the system to recognize children as subjects, rather than objects, of immigration law. This article argues that the present efforts to streamline the immigration detention and relief experience for UACs by combating adult-centered bias are failing. Instead, the evidence suggests that this advocacy model has resulted in a system of immigration detention policy and access to legal relief that varies depending upon the construct of childhood assigned to each unaccompanied child in accordance with his or her gender and related backgrounds. In order to equalize implementation of detention policy and application of immigration law and tailor a UAC's immigration experience to the individual UAC, rather than to his or her gender and the construct attached to that gender, this article argues for the adoption of an individualized approach to each child's detention experience and opportunity for legal relief by interjecting best interest considerations at crucial points of the detention process and amending immigration law to further insulate UACs from the Department of Homeland Security's mandate to combat national security threats and to uphold UAC's economic rights.

Publication Title

Wisconsin Journal of Law, Gender & Society

Document Type



Unaccompanied Alien Child, Immigration, Detention, Removal Proceedings, Policy



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.