University of Miami Law Review


The United States regularly removes unaccompanied immigrant children and returns them to their countries of origin, with numbers rising rapidly in recent years. The United States has moral and legal obligations to this group of children. Rooted in deep moral underpinnings, the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 requires the government to establish policies and procedures to effectuate the safe repatriation of unaccompanied children. However, now more than a decade later, the U.S. government has failed to delineate its practices promoting safe return and, in addition to a general lack of transparency, the scant information available suggests that the United States is not compliant with its duties. This Article evaluates U.S. law and policy governing the repatriation of unaccompanied children, examines whether known policies and procedures comport with applicable law, explores the stark realities and uncertain fates facing children returned to Guatemala, and offers recommendations to bring current practice into conformity with domestic law and social mores.