This essay considers the recent increase in migration of unaccompanied minors from Central America and Mexico and argues that US border control and immigration officials have not addressed the specific experiences of migrating children. This failure is due in part to officials’ reliance on a victim/agent binary in which children are either not accorded any agency and denied a voice or seen as dangerous outsiders and future threats to the nation; in either case, the result is deportation back to life-threatening conditions. In contrast, I see children as precarious subjects and argue for a distinction between vulnerability and precarity. Children exhibit courage in the face of a host of material impediments and also need adult assistance. By tracing these children’s journeys through the detention and immigration process, I show how the failure to respect children as agential subjects has created a situation in which their stories are denied or misinterpreted. I argue for the creation of conditions in which children’s particular modes of narration and cultural production can be heard.


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pp. 94-120
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