MAC Statement: Family separations at the U.S./Mexico border

Like many of you, here at MAC, we have been shocked and dismayed by the recent news of children being separated from their parents at the U.S./Mexico border. As a voice for marginalized and vulnerable children, including immigrant children, MAC is deeply concerned about the trauma recent events are causing. Although an executive order has been signed to end the forced separation of children from their families, the order directs officials to detain families together indefinitely while the parents are prosecuted and the immigration case is pending. The order also does not address the thousands of children who have already been separated from their families. As a result, children continue to suffer.

Through MAC’s Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative, we are acutely aware of the negative long-term effects of trauma on a child’s development, well-being, and ability to learn. Regardless of personal political beliefs, all of us who have children or who have devoted our careers to educating and advocating for children understand that removing young children from their caregivers in this way is cruel and harmful. It is traumatic. Intentions to detain families indefinitely defy the basic need that children have to feel safe and to grow and learn as members of their communities.

There are many efforts underway for those who oppose recent and planned practices to raise their voices in response. Below, we share some resources that explain the traumatic nature of these separations and that offer suggestions for concrete steps individuals can take in opposition. Using the lens of childhood trauma to explain the harm being caused by these separations can be a helpful strategy for communicating with law- and policy-makers. We offer these links as a small way of helping our concerned friends and supporters determine how best to take action.

Thank you, as always, for standing with us in being a voice for children.

Massachusetts Advocates for Children


Immigration, Separation and Childhood Trauma

Separating Immigrant Kids From Their Parents & What We Know About the High Cost of Childhood Trauma by Celeste Fremon, WitnessLA

American Academy of Pediatrics Statement Opposing the Border Security and Immigration Reform Act

Immigration Policy & Advocacy, American Psychological Society


Taking Action

Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) – #EndFamilySeparation

The Florence Project
Providing legal & social services to detained immigrants in Arizona

Innovation Law Lab
Working in immigrant detention centers and hostile judicial districts; keeping the definitive list of children being held

The Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights
Promoting the best interests of unaccompanied immigrant children

We Belong Together
Women for common sense immigration policies

United We Dream
The largest immigrant youth-led network in the country

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

Protecting immigrant rights through the legal system

Kids In Need of Defense (KIND)
Protecting unaccompanied children who enter the US immigration system alone to ensure that no child appears in court without an attorney

Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project
Providing asylum seekers with legal aid and community support across the country

Human Rights First
Helping refugees obtain asylum in the U.S.

New York Times Editorial: Seizing Children From Parents at the Border Is Immoral. Here’s What We Can Do About It.