Volume 32
Issue 1
Fall '17

Promoting a Child Rights-Based Approach to Immigration in the United States

Written By: Olga Byrne

Abstract

This article argues that immigration policymakers, activists, and programs should implement a child rights-based approach. The U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is a useful starting point, as it provides clear minimum standards and a conceptual framework for enforcing children’s human rights in the context of migration. On November 16, 2017, the Committee on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families and the Committee on the Rights of the Child released a joint general comment on the general principles regarding the human rights of children in the context of international migration—calling for a rights-based approach centered around the four key principles of the CRC as well as the principle of non-refoulement. This joint general comment drew from a 2012 report by the Committee on the Rights of the Child, which called upon states to adopt a comprehensive rights-based approach to laws and policies to ensure that children impacted by international migration enjoy the full protection of the CRC regardless of their status or the status of their parents. A key aspect of a rights-based approach, as noted by UNICEF and which will be discussed further in this article, is that it must avoid categorizing children into subgroups that result in discriminatory treatment, including unequal access to services.

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