LOS ANGELES — The community where Cristian Gomez grew up in rural Guatemala didn’t have traffic lights. So it wasn’t until he was 13, when he moved to Los Angeles in 2008 to live with his aunt, that he learned how to cross a busy city street.
Back then, Gomez stood 4 feet 8 inches tall and weighed just 80 pounds. He didn’t speak English and had little education. Seven years later, he is still slight — barely 5 feet tall and a little over 100 pounds. Otherwise, he looks like the typical American college student he is, his English only slightly accented. But his immigrant ascent in this country was not without setbacks, including a two-year stretch when he was homeless.
Stephanie Canizales, a sociology Ph.D. student at the University of Southern California who has studied indigenous unaccompanied youths from Guatemala in Los Angeles, has found that most experience short-term bouts of homelessness or otherwise become disengaged from their support systems.
The reasons for this disengagement are varied. Some children are released to older siblings just barely out of childhood themselves. Family members unaware that a child was heading their way may view the new arrival as a burden. Sponsors may refuse to enroll children in school, insisting they live somewhere else if they want to study instead of work.
Read more here: http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2015/11/24/migrant-kids-homelessness-los-angeles.html.