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Author Meets Critics Session — Suffer the Little Children

Unaccompanied Child Migrants and the Geopolitics of Compassion in Postwar America

Book presentation by Anita Casavantes Bradford, Chicano Studies, UCI; comment by Marjorie Orellana (GSEIS and International Institute)

Friday, December 1, 2023

12:00 PM - 1:30 PM (Pacific Time)
Bunche Hall Rm 10383

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Author meets critics session (Hybrid)


Friday, December 1st, 2023

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Suffer the Little Children: Unaccompanied Child Migrants and the Geopolitics of Compassion in Postwar America


Author: Anita Casavantes Bradford (UC Irvine) 

Critic: Marjorie Faulstich Orellana (UCLA)



In this affecting and innovative global history—starting with the European children who fled the perils of World War II and ending with the Central American children who arrive every day at the U.Sthis. southern border—Anita Casavantes Bradford traces the evolution of American policy toward unaccompanied children. At first a series of ad hoc Cold War–era initiatives, such policy grew into a more broadly conceived set of programs that claim universal humanitarian goals. But the cold reality is that decisions about which endangered minors are allowed entry to the United States have always been and continue to be driven primarily by a “geopolitics of compassion” that imagines these children essentially as tools of political statecraft.

Even after the creation of the Unaccompanied Refugee Minors program in 1980, the federal government has failed to see migrant children as individual rights-bearing subjects. The claims of these children, especially those who are poor, nonwhite, and non-Christian, continue to be evaluated not in terms of their unique circumstances but rather in terms of broader implications for migratory flows from their homelands. This book urgently demonstrates that U.S. policy must evolve in order to ameliorate the desperate needs of unaccompanied children.


Anita Casavantes Bradford holds a Ph.D. in U.S. and Latino/Latin American History from the University of California San Diego. Her areas of expertise include Transnational and Comparative Latina/o History, Cuban and Cuban-American History, the History of Immigration, Race and Ethnicity, and the History of Childhood and the Family. She is a migrant rights activist, diversity educator, and passionate advocate for first generation university students like herself, and is committed to pursuing a research agenda that reflects her commitment to social justice, the wellbeing of Latina/o communities and of children from all backgrounds and around the world. She currently chairs UCI’s Committee on Equity and Inclusion for AB540/Undocumented Students, and is the Director of UCI’s First Generation Faculty Initiative. She has received the UCI Outstanding Social Justice Activist Award (2015) and the Social Science Dean’s Award for Outstanding Mentorship (2016).


Marjorie Faulstich Orellana is Professor in the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at UCLA, where she serves as Associate Director of the International Program on Migration.


Sponsor(s): Center for Study of International Migration

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