Social Justice Solutions was created to promote active participation to create a more socially just world. Relying on our social work code of ethics, SJS has continuously supported the mission and goals of social workers, and social work organizations all over the world to bring together individuals and create positive change. Today, we stand united and condemn, not just the zero-tolerance policy the Trump administration and the GOP have supported to separate families as a fear tactic and deterrent, but to call out this executive order for what it is, a sham that will continue to grant the same policies already used, plus keep the thousands already separated in place and makes no effort for reunification. We agree fully stand behind statements such as the NASW’s news release which calls this practice “malicious and unconscionable.” We would also like to take a step further as new stories unfold as recent reports show social workers within these centers. So, we also ask the NASW, CSWE, and statewide agencies to ensure that any social worker involved in these centers are adhering to the social work code of ethics in their practice. While immigration and social work has been a long-standing partner, laws surrounding HIPPA, as well as documentation are often vague, and first reports coming out allude to practices which could potentially further separation time, family status and harm long term healthy development. If this is the case, we must change or end such practices until clearer guidelines ensures the safety, security, and well-being of these children are secured.
To properly discuss why this order does not satisfy the criteria to be a resolution to the current atrocities taking place, we must first look at some of the misconceptions surrounding the migrant issue. The first, is that this is not an immigration issue. Not only has illegal immigration been on a continuous decline, the majority of individuals entering this country illegally do so by plane. Making a wall, or border crossings minimal. Regardless, these individuals detained and separated, which is in gross violation of the UN Human Rights Council requirements on migrant families, as well as our own asylum laws, are fleeing their homes and peacefully, and voluntarily surrounding themselves to the appropriate authorities to process their requests. We know, crossing points were purposefully closed to force “illegal crossings,” thus allowing this administration to label migrants as criminals. While illegally crossing the border for a first-time offense was considered a misdemeanor, and therefore would not allow the removal of child/children from their families, creating forced criminality, which we believe used to be called entrapment, is the rationale of the separation. The treatment that the families have since received is in no uncertain terms an abuse of authority, traumatic, prejudicial, and illegal. Countless medical and mental health organizations and practitioners have already discussed the long-term implications for such treatment on a child’s development. Inhumane is too weak a word for what is happening. From the beginning of Trump’s campaign, he has pledged to deter immigrants in any way possible, and to slight of hand can change that he is ultimately responsible for enacting these policies. Holding children out as hostages for a border wall or space armada funding is a low unfathomable blow to decency.
While many still wish to point out it has been a long-standing policy, pre-dating even President Obama’s administration that granted the right to detain families, we would like to remind all that detainment was based upon processing the request for asylum. And the detainment of minors was due to a large number of unaccompanied minors which overloaded the system. It was not okay then, but there was not a practice of separating families unless actual criminal cause was in place. We pride ourselves of our rule of law, due process, and freedom, but we have shown that none of these are who we are by our current actions. This behavior violates our laws, the laws of the United Nations, are condemned by our allies, and have far too striking similarities to internment camps of WWII, work camps of North Korea, and concentration camps of Germany.
The current executive order comes at the heels of whirlwind media, as our DHS reported originally that separation was simply not being done, period. Only to reverse course the next day and state they would not apologize for their actions, as they were “just doing their jobs.” Reports from border patrol and ICE confirm cages, with older children regardless of relationship in charge of caring for younger ones. The need to lie, and to have defenders in those lies have become the norm for this current administration, and only the constant push back from the majority of the country has led to yet another course change with this new order. It comes to no surprise that leading up to this order, Trump first denied, then justified, then blamed. In doing so he was able to lead a narrative that it was first not occurring, out of his hands, and finally not his fault (with his blame put on Obama-era policies, pro-choice individuals, current democrats, and the liberal media). By doing this, he gets to lead the narrative that he now has the authority to “save” the children, though he claimed only Congress could before. It’s a cunning move if you only look at the outline. In fact, this order grants power to detain families indefinitely, and still holds the option for removing children under suspect of criminal behavior but does not provide legal stature that would have to be shown to do so. In effect, he’s saying that he’ll keep families together if it’s decided they can be together. In effect, nothing changes besides the headline.
Fleeing horrors of a country is a terrifying move that many are forced to take, often leaving behind everything they had, and everything they’ve known. You might ask why risk it? It’s simple. While you may choose to gamble with your own life, you strive to secure safety for your family. While I address all in this statement, I especially call upon social workers to uphold our code of ethics. We mustn’t stop advocating for the rights of those in need regardless of race, religion, socio-economic status, or place of birth. Human rights are Human rights are Human rights. No one, regardless of status is less than human. We ask you to join us, and our partners in continued efforts for safe and fair treatment for all. Stop the lies, stop to prejudice, and call upon Congress to safeguard individuals and families against an ineffective pretense of an executive order.