Document Type


First Page



Every year about five thousand children under the age of eighteen enter the United States without legal guardians. These children must meet the same substantive standards as adults in order to gain asylum. As children, they face unique difficulties because they may not understand the persecutor’s intent and may not be able to explain their experiences as persecution on account of one of the five enumerate asylum grounds. Furthermore, they must navigate a confusing legal system designed primarily for adults with limited English skills and without the assistance of government-appointed attorneys or guardian ad litems. This Note argues that the only way to ensure that unaccompanied children are not deported into dangerous situations is to consider the best interests of the child in their asylum determination. This reform can be based on the criteria for the special immigrant juvenile status, which locates the best interests determination in juvenile courts while retaining some decision-making powers in the Department of Homeland Security.