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Freelance Writer and Photographer, Al Jazeera America



It’s hard to separate Denis from the loud throng of high school teenagers in line for their after-school Frappuccinos at a Starbucks in the upscale neighborhood of Tenleytown in Washington. Except he sits alone at a corner table checking his cellphone, looking over his shoulder from time to time with a glance of uncertainty and a need for invisibility. When he stands, he is tall and thin, wearing skinny jeans and purple and gray Puma sneakers.

He is one of the estimated 45,000 unaccompanied immigrants living in the United States who arrived as minors. Four years ago, when he was 16, he set out alone on a 3,200-mile trek from his home in San Miguel, El Salvador, to reach his uncles in Washington, D.C. He arrived after many weeks on the road.

In November President Barack Obama unveiled an executive order that would extend temporary deportation relief for undocumented immigrants who arrived in the country before 2010. Still, that will exclude the tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors who crossed U.S. borders earlier this summer.

To

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