Seeking Asylum Alone: Unaccompanied and Separated Children and Refugee Protection
Children's Bureau, Administration for Children and Families (ACF) , U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University, Committee on Human Rights Studies
June 2006, 111 pages
This series of reports presents the results of a two-year study, which examined the plight of unaccompanied and separated children in the U.S., Australia, and the United Kingdom. Each of the country reports describes describe the nature and scale of the migration of unaccompanied and separated children entering that country, drawing on government data and statements, advocates' accounts, court proceedings, and interviews with migrant children themselves. The comparative report identifies eight areas of concern that are common among the three countries: (1) inadequate data collection to account for the children and study outcomes; (2) inhospitable, off-shore processing practices; (3) unreliable age assessment tools and confusing policies on the identification of children who are separated from family; (4) problematic reception procedures, especially in the US and Australia, which restrict access to legal assistance; (5) the use of detention, which is mandatory in Australia, as a form of immigration control; (6) a punitive legal process, poorly trained asylum officers, and limited access to translators; (7) systemic "attitudes of disbelief" within the corps of asylum officials; and (8) the low number of unaccompanied children granted asylum, especially noted in the failure to identify and protect victims of child trafficking.