Abstract: Since the summer of 2014, U.S. citizens have become increasingly aware of a new wave of border crossers, children who are making the journey alone, without a parent or guardian, and who left their home countries to find their way to the U.S. These children became known by many names on the news, but their official federal label is Unaccompanied Alien Children. The group makes up 18.7% of the U.S. population. It is the fastest growing group in the U.S. While the overwhelming majority of the Latino origin population in the U. S. is of Mexican, Puerto Rican, or Cuban descent. The last decennial census reports that the proportional distribution of these three subpopulation groups actually decreased (Ennis et al., 2011), giving rise to the "new Latino immigrants" coming from Central and South America and the Caribbean. The official and academic literature have been criticized for offering broad generalizations about Latinos. The group has been virtually invisible in national data sets; when present, they are compared with other racial and ethnic groups. Few studies rely on the opinions of Latinos alone. To fill this gap and learn about Latinos' opinions about unaccompanied minors crossing the border, three focus groups were conducted with 28 Latino adults representing seven Spanish-speaking countries. The findings highlight three themes in their opinions, the new wave of immigrants, opinions about the unaccompanied children’s parents, and their opinions about the U.S. government immigration policies. The paper has implications for policymakers and researchers.
Key Take Away Points
Awareness of a new wave of border crossers: minors who cross borders without a parent or guardian.
Seven questions were used with seven focus groups of Latinos adults to explore their opinions about the the topic.
The opinions expressed during he focus groups identified three themes on the new wave of immigrants, opinions about the unaccompanied children’s parents, and the U.S. government immigration policies.
The paper has implications for policymakers and researchers.
Myrna Cintron is an Associate Professor and Interim Department Head in the Department of Justice Studies in the College of Juvenile Justice at Prairie View A&M. She earned a Ph.D. in Criminology from Florida State University and has over 20 years of teaching and research experience. Her broader research and teaching interest include minorities in the criminal and juvenile justice systems. Her research has primarily focused on Latino issues. Her recent work addresses police-youth interaction. Michael J. Nojeim, Ph.D., is Professor and Program Coordinator of Political Science in the Brailsford College of Arts and Sciences at Prairie View A&M University. He earned a doctoral degree in International Relations from American University. He received the 2017-2018 President’s Teaching Award. Dr. Nojeim teaches a wide range of classes including American Government, U.S. Foreign Policy, International Relations, and Middle East Politics, to name a few.
Cintron, Myrna and Nojeim, Michael
"Unaccompanied Minors at the Border: Opinions of Latino Adults,"
Journal of Family Strengths: Vol. 22:
1, Article 5.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.library.tmc.edu/jfs/vol22/iss1/5