Throughout the world, in academic, public, and private institutions, immigration has become a dominant social problem worthy of heavy attention and examination. In the United States, immigration has been steadily increasing. The unlawful immigration of unaccompanied minors has also increased. Unaccompanied minor immigration, for the most part, is consistent with humanitarian refugee crisis. In this senior thesis, I discuss the counter-narrative that the United States has created in order to downplay and undermine the surge of Central American unaccompanied minor immigration that it has recently experienced. Furthermore, I examine federal agent and attorney perceptions of Central American unaccompanied minors and their immigration situation. First, I provide background information on immigration policies and forms of relief for unaccompanied minors. This is followed by an overview of research on public perceptions of the effects of immigration and unaccompanied minors. Drawing on various theories, I provide a framework by which we can understand how immigration is perceived in the United States. I then describe research I conducted with Customs and Border Patrol agents and immigration attorneys, which indicates that federal agents are uninformed about the unaccompanied minor situation, negatively perceive vulnerable victims, and have blind obedience to authority. My research also indicates that immigration attorneys are impressed by unaccompanied minors, have conflicting feelings because of work and personal beliefs, and are willing to change occupations because of the intense physical and psychological nature of their job. In addition, I suggest ways to improve federal agent perceptions through informing and educating agents, as well exposing agents to literature pertaining to social workers, case workers, and immigration attorneys.


Biagas, David


Sociology and Anthropology


Other Sociology | Politics and Social Change | Social Control, Law, Crime, and Deviance


Immigration, Law, Unaccompanied Minors, Borders, Asylum, Refugee, Attorney, Federal Agent, Perceptions

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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