Faculty Proceedings, Presentations, Speeches and Lectures


Unaccompanied but Not Alone: Understanding the Strengths and Needs of Unaccompanied Immigrant Minors

Event Title

2019 NPLA (National Latinx Psychological Association) Conference

Event Location

Miami, Florida, USA

Document Type


Presentation Date


Date Range

2019-10-17 to 2019-10-20


Unaccompanied immigrant minors (UIM) are youth who lack lawful immigration status and who are without a parent or guardian in the U.S. who can provide custody and care. By all accounts, UIM experience stressful and traumatic circumstances before, during and post-migration. Most UIM left their home countries due to economic stagnation, poverty, crime and gang-related violence (Kandel et al., 2014); almost half described fleeing societal violence and one in five described experiencing domestic abuse (UNHCR, 2014). During migration, UIM are vulnerable to human trafficking, kidnapping, and other abuses (Kandel et al., 2014). Upon resettlement, UIM sometimes experience extended stays in detention centers, community violence exposure in resettlement areas, and an uncertain future in the U.S., all without family support to buffer these stressors (Alvarez & Alegria, 2016). Not surprisingly, UIM are at increased risk for mental health problems compared to accompanied immigrant youth (Derluyn & Broekaert, 2008; Huemer et al., 2009). The Unaccompanied but Not Alone Project at Nova Southeastern University uses a community-based participatory research approach to understand the strengths and needs of UIMs in South Florida intended to guide future intervention efforts in the community.