Media Coverage of Undocumented Children in U.S. Focus of Annual Childhood Studies Lecture

By Tom McLaughlin

The Department of Childhood Studies at Rutgers University–Camden will host its fourth annual lecture, focusing on powerful myths created by inaccurate and incomplete media coverage of unaccompanied, undocumented children in U.S. immigration custody, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 8.

Guest speaker Susan Terrio, an author and a professor of anthropology and French studies at Georgetown University, will discuss how, beginning in 2012, media coverage of the surge of young children and families from Central America and Mexico to the United States and the U.S. government’s response to the crisis have created these myths.

The talk, “Dispelling the Myths: Unaccompanied, Undocumented Children in U.S. Immigration Custody,” is free of charge and open to the public and will be held in the Multi-Purpose Room, located on the main level of the Campus Center, on Third Street, between Cooper Street and the Benjamin Franklin Bridge on the Rutgers–Camden campus.

For more information, contact Joann Schroeder at joann.schroeder@rutgers.edu.

“Who are these children and families? Why are they coming to the U.S.?” asks Terrio, author of the book Whose Child Am I? Unaccompanied, Undocumented Children in U.S. Immigration Custody (UC Press, 2015). “What happens to them after they are apprehended by immigration authorities and put into deportation proceedings? How do states manage ongoing humanitarian crises?”

According to Terrio, since 2015, family-detention facilities have been the subject of intense public and media scrutiny amid repeated allegations of unsafe conditions, mistreatment of children and parents, denial of access to volunteer attorneys, and deliberate misinformation about release. In contrast, much less is known about the workings of a labyrinthine detention system for unaccompanied, undocumented children – under 18 years of age and without a parent or guardian in the United States – that is capable and willing to provide care.

The Department of Childhood Studies at Rutgers–Camden puts the issues, concepts, and debates that surround the study of children and childhoods at the center of its research and teaching missions. Through a multidisciplinary approach, this innovative Rutgers–Camden program aims both to theorize and historicize the figure of the child and to situate the study of children and childhoods within contemporary cultural and global contexts.

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