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Increased Central American child and family migration is impacting local communities across the U.S. These communities are responsible for ensuring the welfare of this growing newcomer population as they navigate the immigration process and for promoting the integration of those deemed eligible for immigration benefits. Despite this shared obligation, receiving communities’ capacity to respond to this ongoing humanitarian situation is uneven and, in many cases, likely insufficient. 

Targeted research is needed to analyze varying levels of capacity and response across diverse community contexts; to map the landscape of local government and community services available to this population; and to determine how those factors are shaping newcomers’ ability to adapt and integrate. Such work is critical to enhancing local communities’ capacity to respond, by offering evidence-based recommendations for how best to leverage existing resources to strengthen and sustain community preparedness. 

In response to this need, researchers at CLALS and the University of Houston are gathering data in three major receiving communities – the Washington, DC metropolitan area, the greater Houston metropolitan area, and North Carolina – to assess community impact and response across three service areas that play an integral role in immigrant incorporation: education; health and human services; and legal services. The project will also include an assessment of U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE)’s Family Case Management Program piloted in Washington, DC/Baltimore. 

During the spring and early summer of 2018, project findings will be transitioned into recommendations and resources for dissemination to relevant constituencies via case studies of each research site, service area briefs, and public stakeholder briefings hosted in Washington, DC and Houston. 

This material is based upon work supported by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security under Grant Award Number 2015-ST-061-BSH001. This grant is awarded to the Borders, Trade, and Immigration (BTI) Institute: A DHS Center of Excellence led by the University of Houston, and includes support for the project “The Impact of Central American Child and Family Migration on U.S. Communities” awarded to the American University. The views and conclusions contained in this page and linked documents are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as necessarily representing the official policies, either expressed or implied, of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.