Forced from Home: The Lost Boys and Girls from Central America
As crime and violence have increased dramatically in Mexico and Central America in recent years, the number of unaccompanied children fleeing their homes and seeking protection in the United States has increased dramatically. The number of children making the treacherous journey alone and unaccompanied from these countries has doubled each year since 2010. And the U.S. government estimates more than 60,000 children will arrive in the U.S. this fiscal year in search of safe haven. This talk will explore the root causes of this new migration pattern and look at the United States’ obligation to protect these vulnerable migrants and respond to this international crisis.
Jennifer Podkul, senior program officer for the Migrant Rights and Justice Program, advocates for the protection of women, children and families migrating to the United States. Prior to joining the Women’s Refugee Commission, Jennifer worked as an immigration attorney representing both detained and nondetained immigrants before the U.S. government along the US/Mexico border and in the Washington, D.C. area. She spent four years working at AYUDA providing legal representation to unaccompanied immigrant children first as an Equal Justice Works Fellow, then as a KIND Fellow. While at Ayuda she created and managed the first project designed to provide legal representation to trafficked children, and advocated for policies designed to protect vulnerable immigrant populations. She was also a Peace Corps volunteer in Honduras. She has published articles and handbooks on issues related to immigration policies in the United States, and engaged international organizations such as the United Nations and the Organization of American States on human rights standards for vulnerable migrants. In addition to her work in the United States, Jennifer has worked on issues affecting migrants in East Africa and Central America. She holds a B.A. in American Studies and Spanish from Franklin and Marshall College and a J.D. with honors from the Washington College of Law, American University, where she was a Public Interest/Public Service Scholar.
Sponsored by The Global Studies Initiative and the Ashton J. and Virginia Graham O'Donnell Endowment in Global Studies