Title

The Coercive Power of Debt: Migration and Deportation of Guatemalan Indigenous Youth

Date of Publication

2019 12:00 AM

Security Theme

Migration

Keywords

srhreports, migration, unaccompanied children, youth, country-guatemala, human rights, law, migration

Description

In 2014, the arrival of 68,500 unaccompanied children from Central America to the U.S. sparked a debate about whether they were refugees compelled to flee or voluntary migrants seeking economic opportunity. What the dichotomy of forced/voluntary migration overlooks, and what this article seeks to address, are the overlapping dimensions of compulsion and choice in migration decisions. The article focuses on an emerging type of migration among indigenous youth: debt-driven migration. Based on multi sited ethnography in Guatemala, Mexico, and the U.S., this study examines the role debt plays in a cycle of (re)migration and deportation among Mam and K’iche’ youth. It explores the multiple and intimate consequences of this cycle for young people and their families, arguing that international refugee law problematically fails to recognize the coercive power of debt on the contemporary movement of young people.

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Jan 1st, 12:00 AM

The Coercive Power of Debt: Migration and Deportation of Guatemalan Indigenous Youth

In 2014, the arrival of 68,500 unaccompanied children from Central America to the U.S. sparked a debate about whether they were refugees compelled to flee or voluntary migrants seeking economic opportunity. What the dichotomy of forced/voluntary migration overlooks, and what this article seeks to address, are the overlapping dimensions of compulsion and choice in migration decisions. The article focuses on an emerging type of migration among indigenous youth: debt-driven migration. Based on multi sited ethnography in Guatemala, Mexico, and the U.S., this study examines the role debt plays in a cycle of (re)migration and deportation among Mam and K’iche’ youth. It explores the multiple and intimate consequences of this cycle for young people and their families, arguing that international refugee law problematically fails to recognize the coercive power of debt on the contemporary movement of young people.