Abstract and Keywords
Children and adolescents fleeing war, hardship, or natural disasters sometimes migrate to the United States without a parent or caregiver present. These children, classified by the U.S. Government as unaccompanied alien children (UAC), present unique needs based on previous exposure to trauma, including family separation. UAC who are not able to be reunited with family members are typically placed in the federally sponsored Unaccompanied Refugee Minor (URM) foster care program. However, a majority of unaccompanied migrant youth are not served by the URM foster care program. An overview of the defining characteristics of unaccompanied refugee minors and unaccompanied migrant youth (UMY) is given along with the history of legislation and policies related to URM and UMY, the pathways in the U.S. immigration system URM and UMY encounter upon their arrival, mental health, legal, and education implications, and challenges with family reunification. Implications for the social work field are presented.
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