This essay examines and challenges the Trump administration’s recent changes to US immigration policy, particularly the end of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for certain countries such as Haiti and Nicaragua. According to author Donald Kerwin, CMS’s executive director, “TPS represents a pillar of the besieged US refugee protection system because it honors, however imperfectly, the well-established responsibility of states to offer safe haven to persons who would be endangered if returned to their home countries.” However, the Trump administration has sought to “make America great again” by abandoning a central feature of the American identity – its openness to the world’s oppressed, persecuted, and imperiled.
This paper examines the mixed-motive migration of unaccompanied minors from Central America’s Northern Triangle states (Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador). Using data from a 2016 survey carried out in 10 shelters for unaccompanied child migrants run by a Mexican government child welfare agency, the paper identifies the immigrating minor’s motives, which are oftentimes mixed. Some of the key findings include:
- Around one-third of the child migrants surveyed had mixed motives, including both forced and voluntary reasons for migrating.
- Violence appears most often as a reason for migrating among minors with mixed motives, as opposed to the search for better opportunities, which appears more often as an exclusive motive.
- Significant differences between the three nationalities are observed: relatively few Guatemalan minors indicated violence as a motive, and few displayed mixed motives, as opposed to Hondurans, and especially Salvadorans.
- The minors fleeing violence, searching for better opportunities, and indicating both motives at the same time were largely mature male adolescents. The minors mentioning family reunification as their sole motive were predominantly girls and young children.
- Violence was the motive that mixed the most with other motivations.
The results indicate that binary formulations regarding forced and voluntary migration are often inadequate. The implications of these findings include the need to consider forced reasons for migrating in the context of mixed-motive migration, the need for in-depth, individual asylum screening, and the need for more flexible policy approaches that are inclusive of mixed-motive migration.
Kimball Baker (author of “Go to the Worker”: America’s Labor Apostles) examines the role of immigrants in America’s labor unions and worker centers.