The Detention of Migrant Children: A Comparative Study of the United States and Mexico

Posted: 29 Oct 2020 Last revised: 10 Nov 2020

See all articles by Jennifer J. Lee

Jennifer J. Lee

Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law

Elisa Ortega-Velazquez

Institute of Legal Research- UNAM

Date Written: October 29, 2020

Abstract

Detention facilities are no place for children who are irregular migrants. Yet both the United States (US) and Mexico have struggled with how to respond to the arrival of Central American children who are primarily fleeing violence. In these neighbouring countries, the detention of children reflects both an ineffective and misguided strategy to deter people from moving across their southern borders. This focus on border control is further reinforced by the US outsourcing of enforcement controls to Mexico. In the US, a preoccupation with border control can quickly undermine the purported interest of protecting migrant children because they lack the fundamental right to be free from detention. In Mexico, its role as a buffer State causes it to overlook its human rights, constitutional, and federal law commitments to the fundamental rights of children, while allowing practical obstacles to stand in the way of these legal obligations. This article examines how the political imperative of border control in the US influences the various approaches taken by the US and Mexico towards the detention of migrant children. It analyses the shortcomings and best practices of each system and concludes with recommended reforms that actualize the right of migrant children to be free from detention.

Link to the article: https://academic.oup.com/ijrl/article-abstract/32/2/227/5875434?redirectedFrom=fulltext

Keywords: Migrant Children, Immigration Detention, Immigration, Asylum

JEL Classification: K37

Suggested Citation

Lee, Jennifer Jung Wuk and Ortega-Velazquez, Elisa, The Detention of Migrant Children: A Comparative Study of the United States and Mexico (October 29, 2020). 32 Int’l J. Refugee L. 227 (2020) , Temple University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2020-34, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3719424

Jennifer Jung Wuk Lee (Contact Author)

Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law ( email )

1719 N. Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122
United States

Elisa Ortega-Velazquez

Institute of Legal Research- UNAM ( email )

Circuito Mario de la Cueva s/n
Mexico City, 04510
Mexico

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.juridicas.unam.mx/investigador/perfil/elisa

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