Statement on Immigrant Family Separation Policy

June 24, 2018

As committed educators, we join other professional groups, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychological Association, National Academy of Education, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, and the American Educational Research Association, as well as numerous faculty and citizens who have issued statements and letters noting grave concerns about the Immigrant Family Separation Policy.

The U.S. Immigrant Family Separation Policy to separate immigrant parents and children, instituted on April 6, 2018 by the administration of President Donald Trump, has led thousands of immigrant children to become isolated from family members. The executive order signed by the president on June 20 to reverse his administration’s abhorrent policy does not ensure the unification of the 2,300+ children still in makeshift shelters with their parents located thousands of miles away across the United States. The conditions of the shelters and the immigrant children’s transfer to these shelters remains unknown, and by some accounts the separation could last months or even years. The chaos and incompetence of the administration adds a layer of bureaucratic horror to the potential reunification of children with their families.

It is critical that these children (1) be immediately reunited with their family members and (2) receive necessary medical care, particularly to address any trauma caused by this policy.

We oppose the Immigrant Family Separation Policy on moral and humanitarian grounds. It is a violation of basic norms of human decency and of the principles and values of the American way of life. In addition, as educators and researchers, we are horrified that the policy’s architects and enablers either are unaware of or do not care about the abundant scientific evidence concerning the effects of the policy’s traumatic experiences on children. Removing children under the age of two from caring parents and institutionalizing them in group care causes significant disruptions to caregiver-child attachment. These disruptions, when prolonged, cause not only psychological trauma to children but directly affect the development of neural systems related to social-emotional functioning, with lasting effects on brain development. Older children also experience psychological trauma in the context of forced child-parental separation and institutionalization in facilities of unknown quality (e.g., potential bullying, assault, and lack of caring adult figures and supervision). These practices constitute a reprehensible case of child abuse, and violate not only basic morality but also legal doctrine as enunciated, for example, in various UN resolutions such as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the UN Treaty on the State of Refugees.

The latest Executive Order signed by President Trump, although ending separation, raises serious concerns about the conditions under which immigrant families will be housed. In a statement made by the American Psychological Association, this new policy could “create new challenges to the health and well-being of immigrant families by opening the door to holding children with their parents longer than is now permitted by law.” It is imperative that immigrant families receive adequate and humane care and treatment, and that the needs of the immigrant children are met. The time to act is now.

If you would like to sign this statement, please add your name and affiliation here.

Signed,

Laura Engel, Associate Professor, The George Washington University
Beth Tuckwiller, Assistant Professor, The George Washington University
Michael Feuer, Dean, Graduate School of Education and Human Development, The George Washington University
Bernhard Streitwieser, Assistant Professor, The George Washington University
Meggan Madden, Assistant Professor, The George Washington University
Brian Casemore, Associate Professor, The George Washington University
Rawlslyn Francis, Professor of Communication
Heather Walter, The George Washington University
Natalie B. Milman, Professor, Graduate School of Education and Human Development, The George Washington University
Elisabeth Kutscher, The George Washington University
Lionel Howard, EdD, Associate Professor, The George Washington University
Robert Orttung, The George Washington University
Arshad Ali, Assistant Professor, The George Washington University
Touran Waters, The George Washington University
Oren Pizmony-Levy, Teachers College, Columbia University
Susan Russell, Teachers College, Columbia University
Heidi Gibson, The George Washington University
Leslie Rutkowski, Indiana University
Carol Benson, Teachers College, Columbia University
Jennifer Clayton, Associate Professor, The George Washington University
Amy Ward, Westbriar Elementary School, Fairfax, VA
Bekah Saxon, Virginia Education Association
Jennifer Lauchlan, Librarian Coolidge Corner School
Maia Sheppard, The George Washington University
Kathryn Hutton, Early Years Education Professional
Karen H. Ihrig, The George Washington University
Dr. Felisa Tibbitts, Teachers College of Columbia University
Taylor Dawson, The George Washington University, Graduate School of Education and Human Development
Mark R. Ginsberg, Ph.D., George Mason University
Marc Wollenschlaeger, GSEHD, The George Washington University
Susan Swayze, Ph.D., Associate Professor, GSEHD, GWU
Anne Matthews, The George Washington University
Rebecca Thessin, The George Washington University
Shaun Manning, The George Washington University
Ilana Weltman, The George Washington University
Leslie J. Ward, The George Washington University
Leslie B. Trimmer, Assistant Professor of Practice, The George Washington University
Patricia DiCerbo, The George Washington University
Christine Nganga, Assistant Professor, The George Washington University
Kate Seabold Brannon, GSEHD Staff, The George Washington University
Marshall S. Smith, Retired
Sharon J. Lynch, Professor Emerita, The George Washington University
Arnold F. Fege, Public Advocacy for Kids
Rachel Dorfman-Tandlich, Graduate School of Education and Human Development, The George Washington University
Neal Chalofsky, The George Washington University
Lottie Baker, The George Washington University
Anne Campbell, Assistant Professor, Middlebury Institute of International Studies
Mara Ohorodnik, The George Washington University
Lottie Lent, Assistant Director, Museum Education Program, The George Washington University
Robin Khan, Elliott School of International Affairs
Gerardo Blanco, University of Connecticut
Elisabeth Rice, Associate Professor, The George Washington University
Abebayehu Tekleselaasie, The George Washington University
Jennifer Frey, Assistant Professor, The George Washington University
Prof. John K. Hudzik, Michigan State University
Iris C. Rotberg, Research Professor, The George Washington University
Mary Short, The George Washington University
Patricia Tate, Associate Professor, Curriculum and Pedagogy, The George Washington University
Brandi Weiss, Associate Professor, The George Washington University
Sylvia Marotta-Walters, The George Washington University
Olga Acosta Price, Center for Health and Health Care in Schools, The George Washington University
Deanna Ortiz, Graduate School of Education and Human Development, The George Washington University
Richard Lanthier, The George Washington University
Matthew Shirrell, The George Washington University
Lauren Smith, The George Washington University
Shaista E. Khilji, Professor of Human and Organizational Learning & International Affairs, The George Washington University
Elizabeth Lodal, Member, Virginia Board of Education
Shanelle France, Program Assistant, The George Washington University
Annemarie Palincsar, University of Michigan
Liliana Maggioni, The Catholic University of America
Colin Green, Academic Dean, The George Washington University
Adelaide Kelly-Massoud, The George Washington University
Meg Holland, The George Washington University
Susan Boerstling, The George Washington University
Joel Gomez, Professor Emeritus, The George Washington University
Maureen McGuire-Kuletz, Counseling and Human Development, The George Washington University
Cynthia Miller-Idriss, American University
Elizabeth Anderson Worden, American University
Jennifer Manise, Longview Foundation for Education in World Affairs & International Understanding
Brian Ernest, Research Associate, The George Washington University
Bonnie Berry, American University School of Education
Ophira Bansal, American University
Ines Luengo de Krom, School of Education, American University
Gail Pullen, School of Medicine and Health Sciences, The George Washington University
Caroline Eltrich, School of Medicine and Health Sciences, The George Washington University
Dominique Penick, The George Washington University
Kshipra Jain, The George Washington University
Nenelwa Tomi, The George Washington University
John G. Boswell, Retired Professor of Education, The George Washington University
Joyce Moreland, The George Washington University
Diana Whitehead, Executive Director, Association for Childhood Education International
Yvette G. Murphy, Director of the Center for Education Diplomacy, Association for Childhood Education International
Maria Cseh, Associate Professor, The George Washington University
Adrienne Henck, Director of Global Schools First, Association for Childhood Education International
Gareth Strope, The George Washington University
Mariela Campuzano, Lecturer, The George Washington University
Michele Stites, Assistant Professor, University of Maryland Baltimore County
Ferne Jacobson Toccin, MA - The George Washington University
Rick Jakeman, The George Washington University
Brent Edwards, Assistant Professor, University of Hawaii
Sharon Dannels, The George Washington University
David Rutkowski, Indiana University
Maria Galindo Parra, The George Washington University
Alyson Williams, Northern Virginia Association for the Education of Young Children
Kedist Geremaw, Graduate School of Education and Human Development, The George Washington University
Westry Whitaker, University of North Georgia
Chris Stone, EdD, Alumnus, Graduate School of Education and Human Development, The George Washington University
Jill Wilson, MA, The George Washington University
Anna Marie Siegel, Graduate School of Education and Human Development, The George Washington University
Leonor Morrow, Georgetown University
Jillian P. Milam, GSEHD Student, The George Washington University
Megan M. Siczek, The George Washington University
Kathleen Lewis, Arlington County Public Schools
Maria Coyle, George Washington University
Beatrice Birman, Retired
Jean M. LaFauci Schutt, PhD, LPC, NCC, ACS, Alumnus, The George Washington University
Lara Ramsey, The George Washington University
Dorota Preysnar, The George Washington University
Jordan Clark, Graduate School of Education and Human Development, The George Washington University
Karen R. Engel, MS, Retired educator
Emily Vargas-Baron, RISE Institute
Rosalind Raby, California State University, Northridge
John Lawrence, School of International & Public Affairs, Columbia University NY
Eric R. Terzuolo, EdD, Professorial Lecturer, The George Washington University
Prof. Scott B. Martin, School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
Kristel Diehl, Fellow, RISE Institute
Donna McConnell, The George Washington University
Barbara Grant, MA, The George Washington University, Nudge and Cradle
John J. Engel, PhD, Museum Curator Emeritus
Louise W Wiener, Education consultant
Jessica Lunde, The George Washington University
Claudette Monroy, The George Washington University
Tim Marquette, Assistant Professor, Point Park University
Melanie Trask, The George Washington University
Yvonne Jung, VP, HR, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group and GSEHD alumni
Kristin Neil, Student, The Graduate School of Education and Human Development
Kelsey McClure, The George Washington University
Tricia Seifert, Montana State University
Drew Ross, Arizona State University
Barbara Kolukci, Rain Barrel Communications
Donald Wertlieb, Partnership for Early Childhood Development & Disability Rights
Lesley Bartlett, University of Wisconsin - Madison
Jayna Winn, Manager of Custom Programs, CEA Study Abroad
Christopher Lyttle, University of Chicago
Gustavo Fischman, Arizona State University
Rocio Gomez Botero, RISE Institute
Christine Johnson, The George Washington University
William D. Webber, The George Washington University
Lindsay Clare Matsumura, University of Pittsburgh
Jorge Enrique Delgado, Faculty, School of Education, University of Pittsburgh
David Madden, Retired High School Teacher, Lake Washington School District