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Thursday, April 04, 2013

Refugee Studies Center Wins Second MacArthur Grant to Support Migrant Children

The Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS), directed by Professor Karen Musalo at UC Hastings College of the Law, has received a second grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

The Migration Program grant will fund a two-year, multinational project on child migration through Central America, Mexico, and the United States.

The first MacArthur grant, received in November 2012, supports a related CGRS project to examine the treatment of child migrants when they arrive in the United States.

The new project is called “Human Rights, Children, and Migration in Central and North America: Causes, Policies, Practices, and Challenges.” On March 12, 2013, CGRS and its partners initiated this project by testifying at a hearing in Washington, D.C., held by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).

The hearing addressed multiple concerns regarding unaccompanied child migrants, thousands of whom flee their homes in Central America and Mexico each year to escape physical abuse, trafficking, forced gang recruitment, and sexual abuse, or to reunite with parents living in Mexico or the U.S. They brave harrowing journeys during which they are prey to many kinds of exploitation and violence, and their numbers are growing exponentially.

The project will look at child welfare policies and the treatment of migrant children in each country, including interviewing child migrants, to develop regional, national, and international policy solutions to ensure protection for child migrants. As part of the project, CGRS will produce a report with recommendations for enshrining the best interests and rights of children in migration policies and for collaborating to advocate for national and regional policy reforms.

Recommendations will address ways to improve the migration, repatriation, and reintegration processes in Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador as well as ways to improve the treatment of unaccompanied children at borders and within the countries throughout the region. The report will provide a blueprint for building a regional civil society network that enables sharing expertise and promoting a rights-based approach to policies and procedures regarding migrant children.

CGRS is co-directing this work with the Migration & Human Rights Program, Human Rights Center, Universidad Nacional de Lanús in Buenos Aires, Argentina, directed by Professor Pablo Ceriani. Partner organizations include Coalición Pro Defensa del Migrante, AC, A.C., Casa YMCA de Menores Migrantes, and Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Matías de Córdova in Mexico; Asociación Pop No’j and Pastoral de Movilidad Humana in Guatemala; Casa Alianza in Honduras; and Universidad Centroamericana “José Simeón Cañas” in El Salvador.

“It is gratifying to receive support from the MacArthur Foundation for this important work,” said CGRS Associate Director Lisa Frydman. “We are excited to be working with Professor Ceriani and a wonderful group of colleagues in Mexico and Central America to improve the plight of migrant children.”

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