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Serving Refugee Children

Listening to Stories of Detention in the USA

Edited By Montse Feu and Amanda Venta

Serving Refugee Children shows the struggles and traumatic experiences that unaccompanied and undocumented children undergo they seek safety in the United States and instead find imprisonment, separation from their families, and immigration enforcement raids. Current legislation and bureaucracy limit publication of first-person narratives from unaccompanied and undocumented children, but service providers and grassroots activists authoring the pieces in this collection bear witness to the children’s brave human spirits in their search for safety in the United States. Through the power of storytelling, Serving Refugee Children exposes the many hardships unaccompanied and undocumented children endure, including current detention center conditions. No child should have to live the persecution suffered by children featured in these stories, nor should they have to embark upon perilous journeys across Latin America or be subjected to the difficult immigration court process unaided. Researchers and readers who believe that the emotional bonding of storytelling can humanize discussions and lead to immigration policies that foster a culture of engagement and interconnectedness will be interested in this volume.

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Introduction: Serving Refugee Children and Their Families

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Montse Feu and Amanda Venta

Serving Refugee Children started with Lupe,1 a teacher in an immigration detention center in Texas, and her relationship with Luis, an unaccompanied child detained there. For 2 years she served as his teacher in the detention center. She was then asked to fly with him to the home of a distant relative, who would take custody of the child. Lupe did her best to keep Luis strong during his time in detention with reassuring words and expressions of care. Comforting the sad child was not easy—the rules of detention centers forbid touching or holding children, even when they are quite young. Concerned about the wellbeing of unaccompanied minors, Lupe’s Associate professor of Hispanic Studies, Dr. Montse Feu, contacted Dr. Amanda Venta, Associate professor of Psychology, who had been providing psychological services for detained immigrant children since 2012. This edited volume was envisioned as a way to make known to the general public the ordeal that children like Luis endure. Contributors, Cassandra Bailey, Maria Baños Jordan, Melissa Briones, Yessica Colin, Amelia Cotter, Ana Maria Fores Tamayo, Luz M. Garcini, Estrella Godinez, Martin La Roche, Alfonso Mercado, Seth Michelson, Abigail Nunez-Saenz, Paola Quijano, Jaime Retamales, Juan Ríos Vega, Andy Torres, and Paloma and Francisco Villegas share the same principled commitment to advocating for the minors’ wellbeing as Lupe, Montse, and Amanda. By foregrounding ←1 | 2→their valuable perspectives, Serving Refugee Children is committed to the reform and abolition of practices that...

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