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NASW Statements on Immigrant Family Separation
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NASW strongly opposes the Trump Administration policy of arresting immigrant adults and separating them from their children. We are pushing Congress to revoke it. Meanwhile, here are actions social workers can take to help these children: #nasw2018


The National Association of Social Workers, Utah Chapter
Opposes Family Separations at the Border

The Utah Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers is seriously concerned about the recently implemented zero tolerance policy calling for the separation of children from their parents at our southern borders. This practice is in direct violation of our Code of Ethics. As social workers, we are guided by a set of ethical principles that are based on the profession’s core values including service, social justice, dignity and worth of the person, and the importance of human relationships.

To date, over 2,000 children have been separated from their families; close to one quarter of these children are under the age of 12.  Many of these families are seeking asylum and safety in the United States secondary to domestic, gang or political violence.  However, under this policy, all immigrants attempting to enter the U.S., regardless of their circumstances, are being prosecuted, detained, and separated from their children, even if requesting asylum status—a consideration guaranteed under U.S. and international law.  Unlike previous administrations’ border policy, this policy:

1) does not differentiate between families seeking asylum and families entering the United States illegally;

2) requires all prospective asylum seekers to be processed by ICE instead of resettlement agencies;

3) does not outreach to family members living in the U.S. to inquire about temporary kinship placements for children;

4) adjudicates the cases in criminal rather than civil proceedings; and

5) as a consequence of the criminal adjudication, systematically separates parents from their children instead of keeping them together in family detention centers.

As residents of a state that values family and the safety of its children, we urge you to contact your Utah Congressional delegation and urge them to circumvent this colossal horror.  This practice, which is embedded in policy, and not codified in law, can and should be stopped immediately.   Unfortunately, it has become more apparent in recent days that this policy is being propagated for political leverage in immigration reform negotiations, a tactic that is immoral, cruel and in violation of the fundamental premise of acting in the best interest of children.

 As social workers we are well versed in the trauma internalized by children who are abruptly separated from their parents and “sheltered” in congregate care settings. The data on separation-related trauma in childhood suggest intractable adverse effects on educational, physical and mental health development.  Compounding our concerns are recent reports that ICE is now considering relocating children to “soft-sided” structures in tent cities before dispositioning them to sponsors and/or foster care placements.  Historically, numerous agencies have been tasked to oversee displaced children. National data indicate that the current U.S. foster care and shelter systems are overburdened and overwhelmed and do not have the capacity to safely accept hundreds of additional children or find appropriate sponsors.  Without the appropriate infrastructure, we, as social workers, are gravely concerned about the immediate safety and long-term trajectory of these children and families.

 As Utah citizens we cannot wait for Congress to act on comprehensive immigration reform.  The policy of separating children from their parents at the US border must be and can be stopped immediately if it can be made clear that children are not leverage in political negotiations.   Please join NASW in supporting an end to this inhumane, immoral and harmful policy. Please contact your members of Congress. Contact information for your Utah delegation can be accessed by clicking here.


Read NASW's Press Release on Family Separation at the Border:

"NASW says plan to separate undocumented immigrant children from their parents is malicious and unconscionable."


Here's Some Other Ways You Can Help Fight Family Separation at the Border

Lawyers, translators, donations, letters to your congressional delegation

Click here for a list of your Utah congressional representatives

The ACLU is litigating this policy.

The Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights works alongside attorneys and social workers to take action serving in the best interest of the child. The center is currently accepting donations and recruiting child advocates, who spend time with children as their case is being processed. Find out more and donate here

• If you’re an immigration lawyer, the American Immigration Lawyers Association will be sending around a volunteer list for you to help represent the women and men with their asylum screening, bond hearings, ongoing asylum representation, etc. Please sign up.

• Al Otro Lado is a binational organization that works to offer legal services to deportees and migrants in Tijuana, Mexico, including deportee parents whose children remain in the U.S.

• CARA—a consortium of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, the American Immigration Council, the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, and the American Immigration Lawyers Association—provides legal services at family detention centers.

• The Florence Project is an Arizona project offering free legal services to men, women, and unaccompanied children in immigration custody.

• Human Rights First is a national organization with roots in Houston that needs help from lawyers too.

• Kids in Need of Defense works to ensure that kids do not appear in immigration court without representation, and to lobby for policies that advocate for children’s legal interests. Donate here.

• The Legal Aid Justice Center is a Virginia-based center providing unaccompanied minors legal services and representation.

• Pueblo Sin Fronteras is an organization that provides humanitarian aid and shelter to migrants on their way to the U.S.

• RAICES is the largest immigration nonprofit in Texas offering free and low-cost legal services to immigrant children and families. Donate here and sign up as a volunteer here.

• The Texas Civil Rights Project is seeking “volunteers who speak Spanish, Mam, Q’eqchi’ or K’iche’ and have paralegal or legal assistant experience.”

• Together Rising is another Virginia-based organization that’s helping provide legal assistance for 60 migrant children who were separated from their parents and are currently detained in Arizona.

• The Urban Justice Center’s Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project is working to keep families together.

• Women’s Refugee Commission advocates for the rights and protection of women, children, and youth fleeing violence and persecution.

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Utah Chapter, NASW
University of Utah, College of Social Work Room 229
395 South 1500 East • SLC, UT 84112
Phone: 801-583-8855 • Email: