For this week’s #MacroSW chat, we’ll be discussing what we are witnessing unfolding at the U.S./Mexico border. Social workers are witnessing a new policy of immigration engagement: the active separation of children from their families. This is a new interpretation of immigration policy, and the intent of this new action is not uniformly clear. New media outlets have only sparing instances of viewing or interviewing people at the centers of detention, and government representatives have not been in agreement as to why the policy of separation is in place. In one example of this confusion, Secretary of Homeland Security Kristjen Nielson communicated via Twitter that family separation wasn’t happening, but then communicated later that the practice was occurring. In 2017, Chief of Staff John Kelly described the plan to separate children from families as an attempt to deter illegal immigration (Stahl, 2018).
Social workers are reportedly engaged at the border detention centers, however, reports suggest that social work presence is minimal (Soboroff & Ainsley, 2018). Not much is known yet about the role of social workers in this environment. However, the possibility of social workers intervening in harmful policy is concerning. The forced separation of children from their parents is traumatic and can cause lasting psychological injury to the child, according to Dr. Colleen Kraft, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics (Scott, 2018).
Among the possible discussion questions for 6/21/18 chat include:
- What do we currently know about the immigration policy at the US/Mexico border?
- How are social workers engaged at the border?
- How does this practice of separating children from their families conflict with the Code of Ethics?
- What should we, as members of the social work profession, be doing to address this policy?
- What other thoughts do you have?
#MacroSW is a collaboration of social workers, organizations, social work schools, and individuals working to promote macro social work practice. Macro social work practice focuses on changing larger systems, such as communities and organizations. It encompasses a broad spectrum of actions and ideas, ranging from community organizing and education to legislative advocacy and policy analysis. The chats are held weekly on Twitter every Thursday at 9 p.m. EST (6 p.m. PST). Click here for a list of chat partners. For information about how to participate in the #MacroSW chat, view our FAQs. For chat schedule and chat archives check out: http://macrosw.com.
Scott, D. (2018, June 18). The family separation crisis is a health crisis. Vox.
Soboroff, J & Ainsley, J. (2018, June 18). McAllen, Texas, immigration processing center is largest in U.S. NBC News.
Stahl, J. (2018, June 18.). The most audacious moment from Kirstjen Nielsen’s child separation presss conference. Slate.