The International Detention Coalition (IDC) coordinates the Global Campaign to End Child Immigration Detention.
The IDC has heard firsthand the stories of children and parents from all over the world who have experienced immigration detention, forming this research.
In total 70 children were interviewed in Malta, Greece, Hungary, Turkey, the United States, El Salvador, Mexico, Israel, Egypt, Malaysia and Australia. The children had travelled from Afghanistan, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Ethiopia, Honduras, Colombia, El Salvador and Guatemala.
We also listened to the experiences of 16 parents of children who had been detained. Consistent with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, this policy document conveys the stories of children who have been in immigration detention. Their experiences highlight the need for alternative approaches to managing the irregular migration of children.
A Global Issue Requiring a Global Response
Child migration is a global phenomenon. Today, an ever-increasing number of children and young people are on the move to escape poverty, conflict, abuse and environmental hardship. Sadly, for the estimated 40 million international migrants under the age of 20, the life they find can often be more traumatic than the one they left behind…By publishing this manual, the International Social Service (ISS) is calling for greater collaboration between countries, governments and their respective child protection agencies and organisations, and for the establishment of effective transnational referral processes for the protection of children on the move. The manual is both a roadmap for policy-makers and a daily guide for professionals working with children on the move – from humanitarian workers and border staff to social workers responsible for creating individualised plans that put children first.
Published: September 2017
This joint report from UNICEF and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) explores in detail survey data from the Central and Eastern Mediterranean Sea routes to Europe, focusing on adolescents and youth on the move from Africa and Asia. The analysis reveals staggering rates of trafficking and exploitation, and also points to the xenophobia and racism that make young refugees and migrants vulnerable.
Published: June 2016
They risk detention, rape, forced labour, beatings or death. Yet, tens of thousands of children, many of them unaccompanied or separated, are making the dangerous refugee and migrant journey in the hope of finding safety or a better life in Europe. They are fleeing brutal violence, abject poverty, drought, forced early marriage, untold hardship or lack of prospects and hope in dozens of countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
Author/s: Human Rights Watch
Published: December 2016
When Beatriz L. fled to the US from Honduras with her 11-year-old son after gangs threatened to forcibly recruit him, they were locked up together in a US detention center for migrant families for over 10 months. Beatriz told Human Rights Watch that her son began to spend all day sleeping. He said, “Mom, I just want to sleep so that when I wake up we’ll be free.”
Published: September 2016
Around the world, nearly 50 million children have migrated across borders or been forcibly displaced. This report presents – for the first time – comprehensive, global data about these children – where they are born, where they move and some of the dangers they face along the way. The report sheds light on the truly global nature of childhood migration and displacement, highlighting challenges faced by child migrants and refugees in every region.
Published: September 2016
This briefing, written by Rachel Humphries and Nando Sigona, reviews the sources and availability of data on refugee and migrant children arriving in Europe by sea. It finds that variance in policy and practice across European Union Member States results in stark differences in how and when children are recorded, including whether they are considered “accompanied” or “unaccompanied”.
Published: August 2016
The Strategy is a five-year initiative (June 2014 – June 2019), through which UNHCR is working with governments and other relevant stakeholders to address some of the main challenges and concerns around detention policies and practices. For its initial two year implementation phase, the Global Strategy is being rolled out in 12 focus countries, selected on the basis of a range of criteria, including regional and thematic diversity, size and significance of the problem, likelihood of making an impact in the initial roll-out period (albeit without prejudicing long-term impacts), as well as staffing and resources. The 12 focus countries are: Canada, Hungary, Indonesia, Israel, Lithuania, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Thailand, the United Kingdom, the United States and Zambia.
Author/s: IOM / Unicef
Published: November 2015
In this data brief, IOM and UNICEF examine recent trends in the migration of children to Europe in 2015. Since the beginning of this year, more than one in five of over 870,0001 refugees and migrants who have crossed the Mediterranean Sea to Europe is a child.
Author/s: Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants
Published: January 2015
There are many governments implementing laws and practices aiming to protect the rights of undocumented children. Focusing on the areas of education, health care, protection from violence and non-detention, this report seeks to support and disseminate such policies, by presenting several promising examples from governments at all levels, alongside some available data and relevant policy documents at EU level.
Published: January 2014
The key findings presented in this report are derived from an extensive review of the legal framework and detention situation in the 12 focus countries, as it was end 2013. This analysis has been structured through a detention checklist developed based on UNHCR Detention Guidelines (2012)3 which reflect the state of international law relating to detention on immigration-related grounds of asylum-seekers, refugees and other persons of concern to UNHCR.
A Teachers Guide: How to UNDOCUMENTARY in the Classroom
Author/s: Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants
Published: March 2014
UNDOCUMENTARY is a tool for educating students about the daily lives of undocumented migrants as well as related issues such as human rights, migration, social studies, civic education, current affairs etc. Focusing on the chapter “CHILDREN”, this guide provides an example as to how UNDOCUMENTARY may be used in the classroom.
Human Rights of Undocumented Adolescents and Youth
Author/s: United Nations Office of the High Commissioner, PICUM, UNICEF, National University of Lanus, Global Migration Group, OHCHR.
Published; July 2013
This paper considers some of the main issues regarding human rights of undocumented adolescents (children between 10 and 18 years of age) and youth (young adults between 19 and 35 years of age), focusing on the challenges around immigration detention and access to education.
Children on the Move
Author/s: International Organization for Migration
This research is a collection of essays based on ‘The Rights of All Children in the Context of International Migration’. The document contains titles, ‘Introduction to six articles by members of the research subgroup of the Inter-Agency Working Group on Children on the Move’, ‘Children on the Move: A Difficult Voice’, ‘Migrant Children in Child Labour: A vulnerable group in need of attention’, ‘Unaccompanied migrant children and legal guardianship in the context of returns’, Protecting and supporting children on the move’, ‘Challenges faces in protecting children on the move: and NGO perspective’, and ‘Children’s migration: towards a multi-dimensional child protection perspective’.
Training Manual for Guardians and Social Workers dealing with unaccompanied minor asylum seekers
Author/s: Judith Corcoran and Barbara Salcher, for the International Organization for Migration
This training manual comprises information to be used as a resource for the training of legal representatives and social workers dealing with unaccompanied minor asylum-seekers. While their rights are stipulated in a variety of instruments, implementation in practice is patchy and uneven. Therefore guidance and training for those who work with unaccompanied minors is essential in order to adequately protect and safeguard their rights.
Migrant Children and Youth: A Global Crisis (Position Paper)
Author/s: The International Forum for Child Welfare (IFCW)
Published: June 2014
The International Forum for Child Welfare (IFCW), asserting that the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (henceforth referred to as the CRC) mandates that States prioritize the human rights of children, and ensure their physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing, recognizes the unique risks migrant children and youth face, particularly unaccompanied minors, separated children and asylum-seeking or refugee children.
Humanitarian Protection for Children Fleeing Gang-Based Violence in the America
Author/s: Elizabeth Carlson, Anna Marie Gallagher
An overview of the violence perpetrated by gangs and other criminal organizations which compels many children to flee their communities, investigated after the number of children had almost doubled between 2012 and 2014 migrating from Central America (El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala) arriving at the US-Mexico border.
Unlocking Human Dignity: A Plan to Transform the US Immigrant Detention System
Author/s: Migration and Refugee Services/United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Center for Migration Studies
The overwhelming majority of persons in the custody of the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have been detained in prisons, jails and other secure facilities where they are subject to standards designed for criminal defendants and, in many ways, treated more harshly than criminals. The recommendation of this article is to dismantle the current system and be replaced with a network of supervised release, case management, and community support programs, designed to ensure court appearances.
Does Detention Deter?
Author/s: International Detention Coalition
Review of research on the effectiveness of border control policies – particularly immigration detention – in reducing irregular migration. It argues that detention is not effective at reducing irregular migration and also weakens other migration management such as case resolution, departure for refused cases and integration for approved cases. It suggests government’s of destination countries must consider big picture, multi-layered responses to address root causes of irregular movement and reduce the pressures on migrants to undertake risky journeys.
Halfway Home: Unaccompanied Children in Immigration Custody
Author/s: Women’s Refugee Commission
Study of the children’s care and confinement within immigration proceedings without a parent or guardian in the United States, providing an overview of what life is like for children in DUCS, Border Patrol and ICE Custody.
For-Profit Family Detention: Meet the Private Prison Corporations Making Millions by Locking Up Refugee Families.
Author/s: Cristina Parker, Judy Greene, Bob Libal, and Alexis Mazón
Published: October 2014
After an influx of migrants from Central America to the USA in the summer of 2014, the number of contracted companies to run family immigration detention centers surged. The article looks into these detention centers and the companies who run them.
Study of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on challenges and best practices in the implementation of the international framework for the protection of the rights of the child in the context of migration.
Author/s: United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner
The report explores the importance of using the human rights framework and approaches as a foundation to the institutional responses to migration internationally, concentrating on policy possibilities particularly at the international level within the UN System.
Migrant Women, Children Allege Harsh Conditions, Sexual Assault at For-Profit Texas Immigration Jail
Author/s: Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!
In a family detention facilities south of San Antonio, 500 women and children await deportation, some of whom have accused guards of sexually assaulting them. This article includes case studies including a recently release El Salvador national who came with her 7 year old daughter who suffers from brain cancer, an immigration attorney who has worked with migration cases involving sexual assault, and coordinator of Grass-roots Leadership on their new report, ‘For Profit Family Detention’.
Administrative Detention of Children: a Global Report
Author/s: Children’s Legal Centre, University of Essex, Prof. Carolyn Hamilton, Kirsten Anderson, Ruth Barnes, Kamena Dorling.
This research was done in partnership with UNICEF, looking into the practice of administrative detention of children, that is where the detention is not judicial and has not been the decision of a judge or court but rather a body or professional who is connected to the executive branch of government. The research covers to what extent this kind of detention is used worldwide, the context and circumstances in which children are detained, the legal framework that puts children in detention, international human rights law and the impact of detention on children.
Leaving Home, Voices of Children on the Move
Author/s: Save the Children UK, on behalf of Global Movement for Children
This report, based on recent research carried out by various international agencies and by academics, aims to give children a voice and allow them to describe in their own words their experiences of going on the move and analyse the range of positive as well as negative impacts that movement can have on children’s lives. The report asks children, why they leave, what they want and don’t want, the risks on the move, how children can stay safe, and where they can find help. It also draws conclusions and recommendations for the international community to employ.
Core Standards for Guardians of Separate Children in Europe
Author/s: Coordinated by ‘Defence for Children International’
The project sets standards regarding separated children, looking at the role and responsibilities of the guardian, the expectation of the guardian in care of the child, and the qualifications of the guardian. It also looks at the systems necessary or the adjustments the state should make so that guardians can fulfill these standards.
“Dad, have we done something wrong?” Children and Parents in Immigration Detention
Author/s: No Child in Detention Coalition, Netherlands
Published: January 2014
A publication to give children a voice in accordance with the CRC, it encompasses the stories of 8 families who live in Dutch detention (border and immigration), and how this affects a child’s sense of safety.
Age Assessment Practices: A Literature Review and Annotated Bibliography
Author/s: Terry Smith and Laura Brownless for UNICEF
This research in age assessment practices explores the need for this process, the methodologies, and changes in response to international guidance on the practice. There are subsections dedicated to research on the process being used on refugee and migrant children, juvenile justice and international law and child rights.
A Last Resort? National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention
Author/s: Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Australia
This inquiry found that Australia’s immigration detention laws were inconsistent with the CRC, and recommends that children should be released with their parents as soon as possible. The inquiry looks into the lives of children in detention, as well as Australia’s human rights obligations, current child protection mechanisms in detention, current (2002) policy and practice including visa attainment, mental/physical health of children and services for children.
The enquiry confirms the need to ensure that children only be detained as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time.
Away From Home
Author/s: Daniela Reale, Save the Children UK
This report looks at what we mean by children on the move, what their experiences are, what support they need, and how protection systems can be adapted to meet these needs. It proposes a new framework of protection and assistance to safeguard the rights and well-being of ‘children on the move’.
Intercollegiate Briefing Paper: Significant Harm – the effects of administrative detention on the health of children, young people and their families.
Author/s: The Royal College of General Practitioners, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Royal College of Psychiatrists and the UK Faculty of Public Health
Published: December 2009
This briefing describes the significant harms to the physical and mental health of children and young people in the UK who are subjected to administrative immigration detention. It argues that such detention is unacceptable and should cease without delay. Other countries have developed viable alternatives and the UK should now follow suit. Meanwhile a set of specific recommendations is outlined to minimise the damage caused by the detention of children.
Detention and Best Interest of the Child
Author/s: Canadian Council for Refugees
The article looks at the Immigration Detention practices of Canada, especially of children under the (2001) Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. It looks into why children are detained, and finds that despite the promise of the Act to protect children from unnecessary detention, children are still being detained with little meaningful consideration of their best interests. The article makes recommendations to make children legally visible and to ensure that detention is a actually a measure of last resort.
Ending the Detention of Children: Developing an alternative approach to family returns.
This paper draws upon already existing research in the UK and around the world regarding forced family returns that don’t rely on detention. The paper focuses on alternatives to detention for children in asylum seeking families for whom there may be barriers to return.
Being Children and Undocumented in the UK: A Background Paper
Author/s: Nando Sigona and Vanessa Hughes, ESRC Centre on Migration, Policy and Society
This background paper offers a critical review of the situation of undocumented migrant minors in the UK. The paper first addresses issues related to the definition of the group. It introduces the debate on children in migration and illustrates some of the tensions that the migration of children produces, both discursively and in policy terms. It focuses in particular on issues such as access to health and education services, and employment of undocumented migrants under 18. Finally the paper outlines the main trends in the migration of children, providing a preliminary mapping of the numbers and locations of undocumented children in Britain.