I have pioneered empirical research on trafficked children with a particular emphasis on how the intrinsic violence of trafficking into sexual exploitation, forced labor, and domestic servitude shapes the course of their development and re/integration processes. In my single-authored book Children and Adolescents Trafficked into the United States: Reimagining Survivors (Rutgers University Press 2016), I engage theoretical questions about children and childhoods, agency and vulnerability, and trauma and resilience. Programmatically, the book aims to reconcile the gap between the survivors’ perceptions of their needs to recover from violence and exploitation (based on indigenous notions of child and human development, coping strategies, agency, and survivorship) and the institutional responses (based on Western conceptualizations of child development, vulnerability, victimhood, and dependency on adults).
My applied research on child labor and child trafficking in Nepal and Cambodia has informed policy-making of the U.S. Department of Labor as well as activities of philanthropic institutions such as Humanity United and the American-Himalayan Foundation.
I have also been studying Latino undocumented and unaccompanied children and youth for several years. I directed a project aimed at advancing knowledge on the experiences and everyday lives of undocumented migrant children in the United States, casting light on the challenges facing the communities in which they reside, and exploring services and access to health, education and livelihoods. The project examined the ways in which, in the experiences of undocumented migrant children as well as U.S citizen children of undocumented parents, the lack of legal status intersects with gender, age, country of origin and other social factors, as well as the challenges faced by service providers in relation to this group of children and youth. This project was carried out in collaboration with colleagues at COMPAS in Oxford. My paper, To Dream or Not to Dream: The Effects of Immigration Status, Discrimination, and Parental Influence on Latino Children’s Access to Education, based on this research was published in a premier peer-reviewed journal Migration Studies.
I am a member of the IMISCOE (International Migration, Integration, and Social Cohesion) Contested Childhoods In Crisis network of European and American behavioral scientists studying the ways in which families, nation-states, and markets as well as children themselves engage in contesting the meaning of childhood, a complex and changing normative concept in complex and changing environments. Together with Marie Louise Seeberg of NOVA (Norwegian Social Research) in Oslo, I edited a volume on Contested Childhoods: Growing up in Migrancy (Springer 2016).
My publications on migrant children include:
- Children and Forced Migration: Durable Solutions during Transient Years. Palgrave. 2017. (Editor, with Marisa O. Ensor)
- Contested Childhoods: Growing Up in Migrancy. Springer. 2016. (Editor, with Marie Louise Seeberg)
- Trafficked Children and Youth in the United States: Reimagining Survivors. Rutgers University Press. 2016.
- To Dream or Not to Dream. The Effects of Immigration Status, Discrimination, and Parental Influence on Latino Children’s Access to Education. Migration Studies 2(3): 392-414 November 2014.
- Dreams Deferred: The Effects of Undocumented Status on Latino Youths’ Education and Livelihoods. In Lois Lorentzen (Ed.) Hidden Lives and Human Rights in the United States: Understanding the Controversies and Tragedies of Undocumented Immigration. ABC-CLIO 2014.
- Migrant Children: At the Crossroads of Vulnerability and Resiliency. Palgrave: 2010 (with Marisa O. Ensor).
- The Care of Unaccompanied Undocumented Children in Federal Custody: Issues and Options” Protecting Children 23 (1) January 2008 (with Micah N. Bump).