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An unaccompanied minor looks up as he waits to answer questions from a U.S. Border Patrol agent at an intake site after he was smuggled on an inflatable raft across the Rio Grande river in Roma, Texas, Wednesday, March 24, 2021. 

AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills

Paper - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Improving Migrant Child Welfare at the Southwest Border

    Author:
  • Andrew R. Lorenzen-Strait
| February 2023

Policymakers need to act now and place child welfare professionals, not law enforcement actors, at the border to effectively screen and interview migrant children. Information sharing practices need to be improved, with a movement away from paper documents that can easily get lost to an approach that is digital, secure, and accessible by the child, their guardian, their lawyer, and their doctor. Further, the enforcement processing facilities need to undergo an immediate infrastructural transformation with the addition of new design features that are necessary and sensitive to the majority demographic that are held within facilities—children and families.

These actions are doable and require no legislative action. Migrant children deserve decisive action to ensure that their health, safety, and well-being is not jeopardized as they seek refuge in the United States.