Congressional Social Workers Decry Policy Separating Families
Monday, June 18th, 2018 @ 8:52AM
Led by Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA-13), chair of the Congressional Social Work Caucus, five social workers in the House of Representatives released a statement on the Trump Administration’s “zero tolerance” policy that has resulted in more than 2,000 children being separated from their parents. Joining Congresswoman Lee were Congresswomen Karen Bass (D-CA-37), Susan Davis (D-CA-53), and Carol Shea Porter (D-NH-1), and Congressman Luis Gutierrez (D-IL-4). They released the following statement earlier this month:
“The Trump Administration’s policy of separating children from their parents is terrifying and frankly, abhorrent. Reports indicate that very young children– who are already fleeing dangerous conditions at home including domestic violence – are being taken from their parents. Families are often separated by hundreds of miles, and children are being housed in inadequate facilities. As social workers, we understand the profound impact that family separation has on a child’s developmental growth and on our society. These heartless policies instill a sense of helplessness and despair in children and could result in long-term trauma and health repercussions.
“The American Academy of Pediatrics has stated that the separation of children from parents, and detention in DHS facilities that do not meet the basic standard of care for children, pose a significant threat to their long-term health and well-being. Their findings have led them to recommend that children in the custody of their parents should never be detained or separated from a parent unless a competent family court makes that determination.
“Every passing day of separation has grave consequences for these children’s well-being. These are innocent children who have done nothing wrong. Forcing them to suffer at the hands of the US government is inhumane and un-American. We are taking all actions possible to end this brutal policy and reunite children with their families.”
The public’s response to the new policy has been swift and brutal with some liking it to tactics used by totalitarian regimes. Former First Lady Laura Bush wrote in an op-ed in the Washington Post that separating children from their parents was “eerily reminiscent of the Japanese American internment camps of World War II, now considered to have been one of the most shameful episodes in U.S. history.” Current First Lady Melania Trump issued a statement decrying the policy and urging lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to find a solution.
The Congressional Social Work Caucus was created in 2010 by former Congressman Edolphus “Ed” Towns, a social worker representing Brooklyn, NY. He wanted a platform on the Hill that would provide a voice for the profession in the legislative process. When he retired in 2013, he helped to create the Congressional Research Institute for Social Work and Policy (CRISP) to complement the work of the Social Work Caucus.