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Guardians of their Own Survival: Los Jóvenes Emprendedores de Centroamérica and their Interactions with the United States Immigration Regime, 1970-1995
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Between 1970 and 1990, civil wars plagued Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala. This study explored the impact U.S. military intervention in the wars had on Central American migration, particularly that of young children, and U.S. immigration policies between 1970 and 1995. It (1) examined how immigration of Central American youth shaped U.S. immigration policies, (2) examined how states responded to their presence, and (3) used a child-centered approach to migration scholarship to analyze how youth interacted with the U.S. immigration system and law enforcement in their own countries. The central contention of this research is that migrant children fleeing the Central American civil wars acted as stand-alone, rights-bearing guardians of their own survival. These jóvenes emprendedores—incredibly resourceful, adaptive, resilient, and initiative-taking youth—were highly aware, independent decision-making agents. They are termed jóvenes emprendedores because of the significance of their dual points of view represented by their bilingualism and binationalism.