Date of Graduation

Spring 5-19-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Migration Studies


College of Arts and Sciences


Migration Studies

First Advisor

Bill Ong Hing


This thesis centers on an analysis of the situation of unaccompanied migrant children and adolescents transiting through and settling in Colombia, from a children’s rights perspective. These children are being invisibilized, which is causing their unprotection and multiple violations of their rights. Through a critical policy analysis, with a review of Colombian migration and child protection policies, and interviews with governmental and nongovernmental representatives working with migrant children in the country, the study aimed at contrasting policies with the real practices of migrant children protection.

The analysis recurred to Bauman, Butler, Crenshaw, among other authors to show how the Colombian bureaucracy, which should be protecting them, is invisibilizing them, aggravating the precariousness of their living conditions, and increasing their vulnerability. The Colombian bureaucracy inflicts violence on these children by actively producing their invisibilization through inducing a “moral distantiation” from them, and not deploying enough efforts to collect statistical information about them. Additionally, this bureaucracy exacerbates the precariousness in the children’s living conditions through different barriers that hinder their access to protection such as insufficient state capacity and lack of allocation of resources. Finally, it increases their vulnerability by leaving them exposed to diverse risks particulars of the social and political complexity of the Colombian context. This situation is more critically impacting females, LGBTQ+ youths, children with disabilities, indigenous children, and older adolescents.

The document ends by issuing some recommendations to increase the visibility of these children, to tailor the protective institutional offer to their needs and interests, and to approach them from a humble and caring position.