This Sunday--Unaccompanied Minors: Bad Parents or Bad Policy?

American University Public Anthropology Conference Roundtable Discussion:
Unaccompanied Minors: Bad Parents or Bad Policy?

Sunday Oct. 5th, 3:30-5:30pm
Room 245, Mary Graydon Center (Main Quad)
American University Main Campus

In the summer of 2014, the US mainstream media erupted over the ongoing influx of young Central Americans to the United States. While grassroots activists and scholars working with Central American populations were in near-unanimous agreement that these children are the refugees of decades of unspeakable violence resulting from U.S. foreign policy, most politicians and media "experts" told a different story. These children, the U.S. public was told, were in search of the American dream. They had irresponsible parents who did not care about them enough to keep them from undertaking the dangerous journey to the United States. Their governments and/or cultures were at fault for failing to make their own countries more attractive to them. Panelists will examine the framing of the unaccompanied minor crisis and its relationship to the refusal on the part of the U.S. government to:

  1. accept its responsibility for the crisis;
  2. modify its foreign policy accordingly; and
  3. recognize unaccompanied minors as refugees deserving humane treatment.

Additionally, panelists will discuss and debate the efficacy of strategies that have been (and/or should be) used by activists and scholars to challenge "unaccompanied minor" narratives promoted by U.S. politicians and pundits, and the corresponding ongoing violence of U.S. domestic and foreign policy.


  • Adrienne Pine, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, AU (moderating)
  • Arturo Viscarra, SOA Watch Advocacy Coordinator, Immigration and Human Rights Attorney
  • Abel Núñez, Executive Director, CARECEN DC
  • Diane Elkenberry, Senior Children's Attorney, Capitol Area Immigrants' Rights (CAIR) Coalition
  • Alexis Stoumbelis, Executive Director, CISPES

Conference site: