Precarious Protections: Unaccompanied Minors Seeking Asylum in the United States

Mar 9, 2023, 12:00 pm – 1:15 pm



Event Description

Chiara Galli will give a talk on her new book "Precarious Protections: Unaccompanied Minors Seeking Asylum in the US" (the University of California Press), which is based on her ethnographic research in legal clinics in Los Angeles spanning the starkly different political and legal contexts of the Obama and Trump administrations. Galli shadowed immigration attorneys and other nonprofit staff as they prepared their young clients’ asylum applications, worked as a volunteer legal assistant and interviewed 120 immigrant youths and advocates. More children than ever are crossing international borders alone to seek asylum worldwide. In the past decade, over a half million children have fled from Central America to the United States, seeking safety and a chance to continue lives halted by violence. Yet upon their arrival, they fail to find the protection that our laws promise, based on the universally shared belief that children should be safeguarded. Precarious Protections chronicles the experiences and perspectives of Central American unaccompanied minors and their immigration attorneys as they pursue applications for refugee status in the US asylum process. Chiara Galli debunks assumptions about asylum, including the idea that people are being denied protection because they file bogus claims. Instead, the United States interprets asylum law far more narrowly than what is necessary to recognize real-world experiences of escape from life-threatening violence, particularly those experiences unique to children in Central America. Galli reveals the formidable challenges of lawyering with children and exposes the human toll of the US immigration bureaucracy.

The Program in American Studies