Child Migration and Transnationalized Violence in the Americas

Abstract / Resumen / Resumo

In recent years, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of unaccompanied migrant children attempting to enter the United States. In 2014, total numbers peaked at 68,000 apprehensions, mostly from Central America and Mexico. Since then, rising immigration enforcement strategies within Mexico have decreased the ability of unaccompanied migrant youth to reach the US border. However, underlying factors driving child migration have not changed. Children continue to flee high levels of violence, particularly from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, which are currently among the most violent nations in the world. Yet, violence does not end for youth once they leave the borders of their countries; as youth ride buses, trains, boats and trucks north, they continue to encounter it along every step of the way. Due to increasing militarization and punitive immigration policies in the United States, migrant children experience further violence when they cross the US border. In this paper, we reveal how varied nuanced manifestations of violence shape migrant children’s lives. While youth may be able to escape immediate and corporeal violence, we explain how different forms of violence shape not only their decisions to leave, but also their journeys and encounters with Mexican and US immigration policies.