As Border Crisis Continues, Resources For Journalists

The number of unaccompanied minors attempting to cross the U.S. southern border has spiked, causing a growing humanitarian crisis. The Dart Center has a host of resources for journalists covering this important issue.

The number of unaccompanied minors who have attempted to cross the U.S. border with Mexico has spiked by 90 percent in the last two years. By the end of this year, the number of children could be 90,000, according to Border Patrol estimates. The Obama administration says it could balloon to 150,000 next year.

This emerging humanitarian crisis has multiple causes, including record levels of gang violence among youth in Honduras, and the 2008 human trafficking law, signed by President George W. Bush, that ended what is known as “rapid” deportation of unaccompanied minors who come illegally from countries other than Mexico and Canada. Instead, the slower process can take 18 months, creating other challenges on the system and the health of the minors.

The Dart Center has a host of resources to help journalists cover this important story:


In December 2013, the Dart Center hosted a workshop for journalists to improve news coverage of immigrants and refugees, with a special focus on mental health. Click here for full event coverage, including video from all eleven panels and conversations.

Jose Antonio Vargas, Journalist, Filmmaker and Founder of Define American, gives a keynote address on his life as a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and undocumented immigrant.

Journalists Cindy Carcamo, Michael Matza, Gary Pierre-Pierre and Maria Sacchetti share insights on linguistic issues, identity protection, and how the immigration beat has changed.

Denise Ziya-Berte, director of Mental Health at the Latin American Community Center, provides tips for working with immigrants dealing with trauma or mental health issues.

Amanda Begson-Shilcock, director of outreach at the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians, shares advice for working with immigrants from a nonprofit’s perspective.

A Q&A with Donna DeCesare, the Dart Center's Latin America Coordinator, on photographing gang members and their families in Central America and in refugee communities, and DeCesare's take on the current border crisis.


Quick tips for interviewing children. A Spanish-language version of this tip sheet is available here.

The Dart Center's comprehensive guide, "Covering Children and Trauma."

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network's resources on complex trauma, early childhood trauma, and refugee and war zone trauma. Suggestions for talking to children, tips for youth talking to journalists, parent guidelines for helping youth, and age-related reactions to a traumatic event.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's Tips for Talking to Children and Youth After Traumatic Events.

A fact sheet on the effects of trauma-related news media on children.


Yvonne Latty of New York University and Celeste González de Bustamante at the University of Arizona developed an innovative way to provide journalism students with hands-on experience covering immigrant issues. See the “Beyond the Border Project,” and a Q&A with the professors.

Tips for journalism educators seeking to bring trauma training into the classroom from Associate Professor of Journalism at San Diego State University and 2011 Dart Center Academic Fellow Amy Schmitz Weiss.


National Immigrant Justice Center: Useful Documents for Attorneys Representing Unaccompanied Immigrant Children

Women's Refugee Commission: Unaccompanied Children

U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants: Immigrant Children Office of Refugee Resettlement: An Office of the Administration for Children & Families Unaccompanied Refugee Minors (URM)

5 Things You Need to Know About Unaccompanied Children

Report: Child Migrants and Navigating the Immigration System