You are here: American University Centers Latin American and Latino Studies Central American Migration Research Initiative

Central American Migration Research Initiative

As unauthorized migration of Mexicans to the U.S. remains at historic lows, in recent years, unaccompanied children and families migrating to the U.S. have been ever more in the spotlight. Many of these children and families come from Central America – particularly El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. They are often fleeing gang violence and reuniting with family members who came to the U.S. years beforehand. The DC region has become one of the top metro destinations for unaccompanied youth, with the combined total number of placements in DC, Maryland, and Virginia totaling over 40,000 between October 2014 and August 2021.  

Together with community and university partners, CLALS projects continue to explore the factors driving the migration of Central American minors and their families, their safety and welfare during the migration journey, and their integration experiences in the U.S. The effects of the increased, aggressive, and less targeted migration enforcement in recent years impacts the safety of migrants embarking on the journey to the United States and their mental health as they settle in communities throughout the U.S. Two such policies include Title 42 and the Remain in Mexico program, both of which pushed asylum seekers into unsafe conditions outside of the United States and delayed their right to an asylum case. This research is contributing to the Center’s efforts to inform legal decision-making on the tens of thousands of cases that continue to overwhelm the U.S. immigration system. The Center is continuously analyzing how communities across the country are addressing the legal, education, health, and social service needs of newcomers and the dynamics of family reunification. Much of the findings from our research have highlighted the importance of community support, school programs, and social services that do outreach to unaccompanied children and their families.

Examples of published work under this research initiative are below:

Household Contexts and School Integration project represented by puzzle with missing piece

Household Contexts & School Integration of Resettled Youth

Learn More

CARPA project logo

Central American Refugee & Policy Assistance Project

Learn More

Unaccompanied Migrants project logo

Unaccompanied Migrant Children From Central America

Learn More

BTI Project logo 640x366

Central American Migration & U.S. Communities

Learn More

Asylum Decision Making project logo

Country Conditions in Central America & Asylum Decision-Making

Learn More