Children Fleeing Central America: Stories from the Front Lines in Florida

Cheryl Little
Date of Publication: 
August, 2014
Source Organization: 

Since 2009, thousands of unaccompanied children in the "Northern Triangle" - Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador - have fled their homes in search of a better life in the United States.

Published by an organization that has operated an immigrant Children's Legal Program in Florida since 1999, this report identifies the factors that lead these children to seek refuge in the U.S. and recommends steps to protect them, legally and physically, upon entering the country. Replete with quotes, interviews and case histories, the report describe lives of desperation in Central America, harrowing border crossings and deplorable conditions in the "hieleras" (Spanish word for iceboxes), or detention centers run by the U.S government.  The author points out that Post-Traumatic Stress disorders and other mental health conditions "are disturbingly common in this vulnerable population." She also notes that many of these children can assert a legal right to stay in the U.S., if they are represented by attorneys or accredited representatives. The report explains the process of transferring these children to the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which enables them to stay in shelters and/or to be reunited with relatives in the U.S. To ensure the humane treatment of the migrant minors, the report recommends better conditions in detention centers, faster court processing without sacrificing due process,  access to refugee processing in countries of origin, and humanitarian relief in the form of Temporary Protected Status.  (Ariella Katz Suchow for The Immigrant Learning Center, Inc.'s Public Education Institute)

Download it here or view it online.

Get more information from Americans for Immigrant Justice. 


Little, C. (2014). Children Fleeing Central America: Stories from the Front Lines in Florida. Americans for Immigrant Justice. Miami: FL.

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