Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health

, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 1000–1010 | Cite as

Unaccompanied Children at the United States Border, a Human Rights Crisis that can be Addressed with Policy Change

  • Janna AtaiantsEmail author
  • Chari Cohen
  • Amy Henderson Riley
  • Jamile Tellez Lieberman
  • Mary Clare Reidy
  • Mariana Chilton
Review Paper


In recent years, unaccompanied minors have been journeying to the United States (U.S.)–Mexico border in great numbers in order to escape violence, poverty and exploitation in their home countries. Yet, unaccompanied children attempting to cross the United States border face treatment at the hands of government representatives which violates their inherent rights as children. The result is a human rights crisis that has severe health consequences for the children. Their rights as children are clearly delineated in various, international human rights documents which merit increased understanding of and recognition by the U.S. government. This paper calls for the improvement of policies and procedures for addressing the rights of unaccompanied immigrant children; it provides specific, rights-based recommendations which work together to safeguard the rights of the child at the U.S. southwestern border.


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Janna Ataiants, Chari Cohen, Amy Henderson Riley, Jamile Tellez Lieberman, Mary Clare Reidy, and Mariana Chilton have declared that they have no conflict of interests.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Community Health and Prevention, Dornsife School of Public HealthDrexel UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Behavioral Sciences Training Program, Rory Meyers College of NursingNew York UniversityNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Hepatitis B FoundationPhiladelphiaUSA
  4. 4.Health Federation of PhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaUSA
  5. 5.Department of Health Management and Policy, Dornsife School of Public HealthDrexel UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA

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