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A Better “Best Interests”: Immigration Policy in a Comparative Context
Law & Policy  (IF1.432),  Pub Date : 2019-08-23, DOI: 10.1111/lapo.12135
Michele Statz, Lauren Heidbrink

This conceptual article examines the role and limitations of the best interests standard in international and domestic policy, with a particular focus on how the standard is implicated in the treatment of unaccompanied minors in the United States. Motivated by emergent interdisciplinary scholarship on global youth and informed by a comparative consideration of best interests across other professions, we propose a new model of best interests. This model calls for a multidimensional recognition of youths’ family‐, community‐ and decision‐making contexts; acknowledgment of youths’ rights; and a commitment to speaking with, rather than for, young people. What results is a novel and dynamic understanding of best interests with relevance to scholars, practitioners, and policymakers.