Carmen Monico studies humanitarian and human rights crisis at the border 

Monico, an assistant professor of human service studies, had two articles on child-family separation at the border published in the Journal of Human Rights and Social Work.   

Carmen Monico, assistant professor of human service studies, has had two articles addressing humanitarian and human rights crises at the U.S.-Mexico border published in the Journal of Human Rights and Social Work. 

Monico's research focuses on the hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers from the Central America Northern Triangle countries who are arriving at the U.S. border each month. Citizens from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras are fleeing from violence and poverty after decades of civil war, gang violence, and economic hardship. 

As documented by the United Nations and numerous immigration and human rights groups, these migrants are seeking protection in the U.S. as many of them are informally reuniting with family, relatives or members of the same ethnic group or hometown. In recent years, most of those arriving are unaccompanied minors and families traveling with children. Monico has found that hundreds have arrived in “caravans” (in large groups) or mostly on their own, with limited support from smugglers. 

As the news covers extensively this large influx of immigrants, Monico felt compelled to write about this major global concern: child migration. Building on her dissertation work, Monico sought collaboration with international expert on intercountry adoption Karen Rotabi, refugee resettlement scholar Justin Lee, and childhood and youth specialist Yvonne Vissing. The research group analyzed the impact of the zero-tolerance policy and related administrative measures aimed at deterring the growing migration through the Southwestern border. Monico's dissertation research focused on the historical evolution of intercountry adoption globally and the experience of Guatemalan mothers whose children were stolen, trafficked, and eventually adopted by U.S. families.

Monico's research was essential to understand if what is happening in the Southwestern border meets the criteria of child abduction and violates the best interest of children and other principles contained in international convention. The article "Forced Child–Family Separations in the Southwestern U.S. Border Under the “Zero-Tolerance” Policy: Preventing Human Rights Violations and Child Abduction into Adoption (Part 1)" studies how the current administration policies and practices violate the human and civil rights of migrant children and their families internationally and nationally. The article "Forced Child-Family Separations in the Southwestern US Border Under the “Zero-Tolerance” Policy: the Adverse Impact on Well-Being of Migrant Children (Part 2)" uses existing research on child trauma, attachment and resilience to analyze the negative influence forced family separation has on migrant children.