New Study on Reasons Children Migrate to the US from Mexico and Central America
February 13, 2015
Children’s Migration to the United States from Mexico and Central America: Evidence from the Mexican and Latin American Migration Projects
Katharine M. Donato and Blake Sisk
Why do children from Mexico and Central America migrate to the United States? Beyond violence and poverty, new study points to migration history of parents, including parents residing in the United States.
This article examines child migration from Mexico and Central America using detailed information on the social and demographic characteristics of children and their parents from the Mexican and Latin American Migration Projects. It investigates the extent to which children: 1) enter the United States without legal authorization to do so; 2) are more likely to cross the border now than in the past and 3) have parents who have migrated to the United States. The analysis shows a strong link between parental migration and the likelihood that a minor child will migrate to the United States. Moreover, children’s lifetime chances of making a first unauthorized trip shift across different periods of entry. The findings support the idea that children are incorporated into the migration process through their ties to family members, and suggest that children need protection in the form of family reunification and permanent legal status.