In the "best interest" of immigrant and refugee children: Deliberating on their unique circumstances

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Each year, state juvenile courts provide thousands of immigrant and refugee children with access to consistent and reliable caregiving and a stable environment. To examine how courts interpret "the best interests" of immigrant and refugee children, this article examines 24 cases in courts across the United States, which indicate they use a territorial approach when evaluating the best interests standard. Although legal status was not an issue, many related factors were. Consequently, the courts restricted immigrant parents' rights in caring, guiding, and visiting their children; increased the risk of wrongfully terminating parental rights; and intensified the unpredictability of immigrant and refugee children's welfare in the long run. This article suggests an approach that encourages communication between social workers and the courts to address the special needs and circumstances of immigrant and refugee children on three key topics: the material and moral welfare of the child, and social welfare for immigrant and refugee families.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)747-770
Number of pages24
JournalChild welfare
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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