“It would be something fine if we could learn how to bless the lives of children. They are the people of new life. Children are the only people nobody can blame. They are the only ones always willing to make a start; they have no choice. Children are the ways the world begin again and again.” -- June Jordan 

As scholars of education, history, psychology, sociology, and various other academic fields and disciplines, we unequivocally denounce the policies and practices that separate immigrant families, particularly children from primary care givers. We are also educators and (many of us) state employees who carry the charge to serve and advocate for children and families in the states where we work as faculty and to support the development of a healthy generation of young people, more broadly. Our peers, and indeed several of us in this letter, have written to you, offering you evidence of why the unconscionable practice of separating children from their parents and caregivers, accompanying adults, and guardians at the border is not only unsound practice but also untenable.[1] 

The separation of minors from primary care givers as part of U.S. enforcement of immigration laws is unethical, immoral, and goes against all human rights conventions and laws. There is no legal doctrine that requires this, despite the falsehoods being circulated by the Trump administration. Moreover, such a practice constitutes an extreme human rights breach, as outlined by the Geneva Convention on the Rights of the Child (GCRC), placing all those who abide by it squarely on the wrong side of history.[2] Even though the US is the only country that has not signed onto the GCRC, this does not mean that we are exempt from international human rights law and the moral imperative it carries. Grounded in this legal, moral, and ethical imperative, we the undersigned, urge Congress and individual states to act to immediately stop such practices. To remain silent and continue with this egregious practice is to be complicit with nothing less than child abuse and torture. We must raise our voices and call for the immediate reunification of minors and their primary caregivers.

We patently reject the ideological justifications that this administration is offering as rationale for these cruel practices. The Department of Homeland Security insists that deterrence is not the goal of such practice and that it is only done to “protect the best interests of minor children crossing our borders, and occasionally this results in separating children from an adult they are traveling with”.[3] However, others in the Trump administration have made it clear that the separation of children from their families is meant to punish and deter those who seek asylum in the US.  Framing such separation as an immigration deterrent, as John F. Kelly put it in March of 2017, reveals the true motivation of this policy. This much was admitted when Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen stated openly that “We're looking at a variety of ways to enforce our laws to discourage parents from bringing their children here.”[4] Additionally, the latest indication that this administration is using the separation of children from caregivers as a political tactic adds to the insurmountable evidence of the unethical and nefarious nature of this policy.[5]

Furthermore, the federal government is acting in a way that signals its intent to make this process as cumbersome as possible for advocates. The separation of caregivers from children across state lines is one such strategy that points to the intent of the federal government. The story of an immigrant from the Congo known as Ms. L is testament to this. Her daughter was sent to Chicago while she has been locked away in Otay Mesa Detention Center near San Diego. We know that over 120 undocumented women have been sent to a detention facility in SeaTac, separated from their children at the Texas border. Another example of the federal government acting in a way that frames this law as a deterrent is the private corporate contracting to house minors. According to the New York Times,”[t]he federal Office of Refugee Resettlement is now overseeing an estimated 100 shelters in 17 states, serving a population that has grown to more than 11,000 youths.”[6]

What we are seeing, in short, is nothing less than a violation of due process and a violation of meaningful representation for the accused.[7] With this fundamental right to representation and due process denied, minors are being placed in subpar and prison-like living conditions, such as tents in Tornillo, Texas, where temperatures are currently in the triple digits.[8] With little or no oversight in such places, one can only imagine that these infants and children have been subject to abuses, particularly given the documented US state practice of physically and sexually abusing and threatening children and minors that the ACLU recently exposed in the treatment of detained migrant children from 2009-2014.[9] 

Moreover, even in the absence of subpar dwellings and the practice of such overt sexual and physical abuses and threats of injury and harm, the separation of migrant infants and children from their caretakers will have profound psychological effects upon children, as the American Pediatric Association,[10] the American College of Physicians[11] and the American Psychiatric Association[12] have recently concluded. Indeed, the evidence based scholarship in the field amply demonstrates that the traumas of such practices that will continue to surface over the lifespan for children being separated from their caregivers. As experts in the field, we know well that the consistent and predictable attachment and attention from primary caregivers fosters children’s growth and development and overall well-being through adulthood. The interruption of such relationships result in adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) that pose a negative input to children’s development and long-term success. Children with ACEs, such as separation from parents, have 1) a higher potential for social, emotional, and cognitive impairment, 2) adoption of high risk behaviors, 3) disease, disability, and social problems, and 4) early death.

Current research around childhood trauma indicates that separation from their families leaves children more vulnerable to exploitation and abuse, no matter what the care setting. Traumatic separation creates toxic stress in children and adolescents that can profoundly impact their development and increase the risk of stress-related disease well into adulthood.[13] Such trauma is found to be held within the children’s DNA and then passed onto future generations. This evidence is clear for descendents of US Native American Boarding School survivors as well as survivors of the Holocaust. Given our wealth of information around the importance of consistent child-caregiver relationships, it is irresponsible and harmful for these policies to continue.[14] For the government to put children at risk in such ways replicates acts of history that we know to have caused trauma across generations.

Our collective expertise leads us to conclude that this policy is nothing less than an  outright attack upon youth within Trump’s war upon immigrants and people of color, and one that will continue to haunt communities for generations to come. Waged through children, as the most vulnerable segment of any population, this practice has eerie echoes in shameful histories of state dictatorship, ethnocide, and genocide that have since been proven morally reprehensible and illegal under international and national human rights law and norms. It places US state policy and practice among the most unethical and unjust of actions couched in the rhetoric of “child welfare.” It also includes the most blighted periods of US history, such as the separation of African American children from their parents under slavery and the removal of tens of thousands of Native American children who were placed within Native American Boarding Schools.[15] 

In short, we demand that children stop being used as political pawns. The damage of these practices will last a lifetime, and across future generations. To punish these parents reflects both cruelty and an overzealous prosecution of the law in order to garner political points. To punish these children is tantamount to government-sanctioned child abuse. Grounded in our firm understandings of such histories and their unbearable consequences, we cannot stand by and watch the administration’s shameful practices. We therefore unequivocally demand that these practices be immediately halted and children be reunited with their parents and caregivers. We urge you to act now.


Dolores Calderon, Associate Professor, Western Washington University

Anna Lees, Assistant Professor, Early Childhood Education, Western Washington University

Tracy Lachica Buenavista, Professor, Asian American Studies, California State University, Northridge

Mari­a C. Ledesma, Associate Professor, University of Utah

Lourdes Alberto, Associate Professor, University of Utah

Lauren Araiza, Associate Professor of History, Denison University

Eliza Noh, Professor, California State University Fullerton

Leilani Sabzalian, Assistant Professor of Indigenous Studies in Education, University of Oregon

Juliana Chang, Professor and Chair, English Department, Santa Clara University

Shirin Vossoughi, Assistant Professor, Learning Sciences, Northwestern University

Alana M.W. LeBron, Assistant Professor of Public Health and Chicano/Latino Studies, University of California, Irvine

Lilliana P. Saldaña, Associate Professor, University of Texas at San Antonio

Tamara Lea Spira, Associate Professor of American Studies, Fairhaven College, Western Washington University

John Bickford, associate professor, Eastern Illinois University

S. Heijin Lee, Assistant Professor, New York University

Nitasha Sharma, Associate Professor, African American Studies, Northwestern University

Bree Picower, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Montclair State University

Floridalma Boj Lopez, Assistant Professor, CSULA

Frann Michel, Professor of English, Willamette University

Eve Tuck, Associate Professor, Social Justice Education, OISE, University of Toronto

Laura Wangsness Willemsen, Assistant Professor, Concordia University, St.


Juan Carmona, History Instructor,  South Texas College

Lourdes Gutierrez Najera, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Drake University

Sally Markowitz, Professor of Philosophy and Women's and Gender Studies, Willamette University

Derek A. Houston, Assistant Professor, University of Oklahoma

Zehra Greenleaf, University of Oregon

Daniel Hernandez, PhD Candidate, University of Auckland. Hometown: Rose Park, Utah

Nicole Lopez-Jantzen, CUNY - Borough of Manhattan CC

Grace Kyungwon Hong, Professor of Gender Studies and Asian American Studies, UCLA

Noriko Milman, Associate Professor, Sociology and Child & Youth Studies, University of San Francisco

OiYan Poon, Assistant Professor of Higher Education, Colorado State University

Arlene Sanchez-Walsh, Professor, Religious Studies, Azusa Pacific University

Tatiana Joseph, Assistant Professor, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Natalee KÄ“haulani Bauer, PhD., Mills College

Cindy Cruz, Associate Professor, UC Santa Cruz

Amaru Tejeda, Film and & Media PhD Student, UCSB

Monica G. Garci­a, Associate Professor, California State University Northridge

Omar Valerio-Jimenez, Associate Professor, University of Texas at San Antonio

Mari­a Cioé-Peña Assistant Professor, Montclair State University

Rebeca Burciaga, PhD, Associate Professor of Education and Mexican American Studies, San José State University

Molly Talcott, Associate Professor of Sociology, California State University, Los Angeles

Dana Collins, Professor of Sociology, California State University, Fullerton

Enrique Calderon, Educator

Yusef S. Daulatzai, Staff Psychologist, U.C.L.A.

Marilyn Chu, Ed.D., Professor, Early Childhood Education, Western Washington University

April Baker-Bell, Assistant Professor, Michigan State University

Asha Wisseh, UCSB

Adriana Katzew, MassArt

Adriana Katzew, Chair, MassArt

Walter Kitundu, Professor, School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Rosalyn Davis, Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychology, Indiana University Kokomo

W. Orcajo, PhD, College Faculty, Washington USA

Paul Spickard, Professor of History, University of California, Santa Barbara

Veronica Zacarias, MSW

Ruth M. Lopez , Assistant Professor, University of Houston

Susana M. Muñoz, Assistant Professor, Colorado State University—Fort Collins

Alexis Meyers, Education Instructor, Skagit Valley College

Michael Calderon-Zaks, Lecturer of Sociology at UCSD, Sociology Instructor at Santa Monica College

Dr. Sandra Rodriguez-Arroyo, Associate Professor of Education, University of Nebraska at Omaha

Magali­ Rabasa, Assistant Professor of Hispanic Studies, Lewis & Clark College

Ilana Umansky, Assistant Professor, University of Oregon

Katie Headrick Taylor, Assistant Professor, University of Washington

Maylei Blackwell, Associate Professor, UCLA

Kathy Nakagawa, Associate Professor, Arizona State University

Benjamin Zulueta, Lecturer, University of California, Santa Barbara

Kare'l Lokeni, Educational Advisor, Mt. San Antonio College

Saira Rab, Adjunct Professor, HCC

Gilda L. Ochoa, Professor of Chicana/o-Latina/o Studies, Pomona College

Monica J. Alaniz-McGinnis, PhD, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

Wanda S. Pillow, Professor, University of Utah

Rick Ayers, Assoc Professor, Teacher Education, University of San Francisco

Russell Toomey, associate professor, University of Arizona

Chichi Peng UCSB

Aaron Bae, Lecturer in Asian Pacific American Studies, Arizona State University

Michelle S. Macy, Adjunct Faculty, Early Childhood Education, Northwest Indian College

Misty Newell, Social Worker

Dr. Catherine MacGillivray University of Northern Iowa

Norma Hernandez, Psychology Faculty, Estrella Mountain Community College

'Inoke Hafoka, Doctoral Student, UCLA

Guadalupe Mahoney, 8th grade science teacher,WEA.

Dominique Lupisan, Academic Advisor, California State University, Northridge

Dr. Maria C. Malagon, Assistant Professor of Sociology, California State University, Fullerton

Kylie Harris, MA Candidate, UCSB, FAMST

Eric John Eigner, Concerned US Citizen

Megan Bang, Associate Professor, University of Washington

Tawny Caroline Young

Rudy Guevarra, Associate Professor, Arizona State University

Alisson Bonner Wcc parenting education faculty

Emma Elliott-Groves, assistant professor, Washington State University

John Lupinacci, Assistant Professor, Washington State University

Alejandro T. Acierto, Artist in Residence: Critical Race Studies, Michigan State University

Dimpal Jain, Associate Professor, California State University, Northridge

Matthew Kester, Ph.D., Independent Scholar, Writer

Hope Corbin, Associate Professor, Western Washington, University

Jean-Paul deGuzman, Lecturer, UCLA

Leila Rodri­guez, PhD

Dr. Mimi Wallace, Asst. Professor, McNeese State University

Kris Gutierrez, Professor, UC, Berkeley

Gabriel Garcia, Associate Professor of Public Health, University of Alaska Anchorage

Christina Chin, Assistant Professor, California State University, Fullerton

Arthur D. Soto-Vasquez, Assistant Professor, Texas A&M International University

Carlos O. Calderon, PhD; assistant professor of psychology; California State University

Annie Isabel Fukushima, Assistant Professor, University of Utah

Kyle T. Mays, Ph.D., UCLA

Antero Garcia, Assistant Professor, Stanford University

Joanne L. Rondilla, Assistant Professor, San Jose State University

Jasmine Mitchell, Assistant Professor, State University of New York-Old Westbury

corey dolgon, stonehill college

Dorinda Moreno, Fuerza Mundial Global, Human Rights, Principal

Sandra L.Osorio, Assistant professor Illinois State University

Dennis Rudnick, Ph.D., Associate Director of Multicultural Education and Research, IUPUI

Judith Blau, Emerita professor, Univ of North Carolina

Jenna Cushing-Leubner, Assistant Professor, University of Wisconsin - Whitewater

Kimberly Moffitt, UMBC

Professor Sandy Grande, Connecticut College

Daniela Jauk, PhD

Otomie Vale Nieves, Professor, University of Puerto Rico

Debora Wisneski, Associate Professor, University of Nebraska Omaha

Hannah Goodwin, Assistant Professor, Mount Holyoke College

Roberto G. Gonzales, Professor of Education, Harvard University

Francisco Rios, Professor, Western Washington University

Korinta Maldonado, Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, UIUC

Corinne McKamey, Associate Professor, Rhode Island College

Keri E. Iyall Smith, Associate Professor of Sociology, Suffolk University

Frederick Erickson Ph.D.  UCLA Emeritus

Y'Shanda Rivera, Ph.D. Candidate, Northwestern University

Andrew D. Coppens, Assistant Professor, University of New Hampshire

Emma Fuentes, Associate Prof, USF

Melissa A. Martinez, Associate Professor of Education & Community Leadership, Texas State University

Cindy Hmelo-Silver, Professor, Indiana University

Amanda Sugimoto, Assistant Professor, Portland State University

Dr. Hilary Lustick, Assistant Professor, Texas State University College of Education

Scott Bowman, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice, Texas State University

Aachey Susan Jurow, Associate Professor, University of Colorado, Boulder

Amanda M. Lopez, Associate Professor of History, Saint Xavier University

Erica Walker, Professor of Mathematics Education, Teachers College

Ellen Berrey, Assistant Professor, University of Toronto (U.S. citizen)

Dr. Michelle J. McCollin, Associate Professor, Slippery Rock University of PA

Dr. Jennifer Richter, assistant professor, ASU

Regina Deil-Amen, Professor of Higher Education and Sociology, University of Arizona

Dawn Hicks Tafari, PhD. Winston-Salem State University

Juliette Maiorana, Ph.D. History, Estrella Mountain Community College, Avondale, Arizona

Ilana Horn, Professor of Education, Vanderbilt University

Mari­a C. Olivares Pasillas, PhD, TERC

Ersula Ore, Lincoln Professor of Ethics in The School of Social Transformation, Assistant Professor of African & African American Studies, and Rhetoric

Myrna Garcia, Assistant Professor of Instruction in Latina and Latino Studies, Northwestern University

Kelly McDonough, Associate Professor, University of Texas at Austin

Amelia Bacon, BAEd, Whatcom Center for Early Learning

Claire M Massey PhD ABD, Saarland University, Germany

David Hernandez-Saca, Assistant Professor, University of Northern Iowa

Oscar R. Cornejo, Ph.D. Student, Northwestern University

Annelise Orleck, Professor of History, Dartmouth College

Lilian Chavez, Residential Faculty, Mesa Community College

Lilah Shapiro, Assistant Professor of Instruction, Northwestern University School of Education and Social Policy

Django Paris, Associate Professor, University of Washington

Mark Frezzo, Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Mississippi

Marjorie Faulstich Orellana, Professor, UCLA

Jennifer Tilton, Professor, University of Redlands

Pamela Voekel, Assoc. Professor of History, Dartmouth College

Nina Ballew, Early Learning Specialist, Bellingham School District

kihana miraya ross, Assistant Professor of African American Studies, Northwestern University

Inmaculada M. Garcí­a-Sánchez, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Temple University

Dr. Anna Beresin, Professor, University of the Arts

Victoria Sanford, Professor and Chair of Anthropology, Lehman College, City University of New York

Donna Gabaccia professor of history University of Toronto

Udi Greenberg, Associate Professor, Dartmouth College

Dr. Erin Anderson, University of Denver

Edward Miller, Associate Professor of History, Dartmouth College

Soyoung Suh, Associate Professor, Dartmouth College

Vicki Robinson,  volunteer transport for foster children, concerned parent, member of WFCN

Keith E. McNeal, Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Houston

Ian Lustick. Professor of Political Science. University of Pennsylvania

Nelson Maldonado-Torres, Professor, Rutgers University, New Brunswick

Margaret M. Ramirez, Postdoctoral Fellow, Stanford University

Ayala Fader, Professor of Anthropology, Fordham University

Courtney Helfrecht, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Washington State University

Jason Hart, Ph.D. University of Bath

Maik Arnold, Prof Dr, University of Applied Sciences Dresden

Susan Shepler, Associate Professor, American University

Deborah Berman Santana, Professor Emeritus, Mills College, Oakland CA

Judith Byfield, Associate Professor, Cornell University

Chasity Bailey-Fakhoury, Assistant Professor,, Grand Valley State University

Achsah Dorsey, PhD Candidate, University of North Carolina

William R. Penuel, Professor of Learning Sciences and Human Development, University of Colorado Boulder

Lawrence D. Blum, MD,  Adjunct Professor in Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania

Janice Stiglich, PhD Candidate at Childhood Studies Rutgers

Rebecca Romo, Professor of Sociology, Santa Monica College

Jessica Winegar, Professor of Anthropology, Northwestern University

Susan Terrio Professor of Anthropology, Georgetown University

Elizabeth Meyer, associate professor, CU Boulder

Jeff Young, Professor, Western Washington University

Dean Saranillio, Assistant Professor, New York University

Deena J. Gonzalez, Professor, Loyola Marymount University

Gabriel A. Reich, Associate Professor, Virginia Commonwealth University

Tomas A. Madrigal, Ph.D., UC Santa Barbara

Kristen McCleary, History Dept, James Madison University

joanna goodman Association  of Child Psychoanalysis

Adam Howell Boyette, Lecturing Fellow, Duke University

Lynn Nybell, PhD, MSW, Professor of Social Work, Eastern Michigan University

Maria Barbero, PhD Candidate, Florida International University

Nicole Mirra, Assistant Professor of Urban Teacher Education, Rutgers University

Laura Enriquez, Assistant Professor of Chicano/Latino Studies and Sociology, University of California, Irvine

Brooke Lober, Scholar in Residence, UC Berkeley

Bambi L. Chapin, Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC)

Philip Vieira, Assistant Professor, California State University

Joseph Schneider, Professor, Drake University

Abigail A. Sewell, Assistant Professor, Emory University

Trangdai Glassey-Tranguyen, Ph.D. Candidate, UC Riverside

Maureen Hodge, Manager   Opportunity Council

Erin Rose Ellison, Assistant Professor of Psychology, CSU Sacramento

Robin Harwick, PhD, Research Scientist, University of Washington

Keridwen Luis, Lecturer, Brandeis University & Harvard University

Jacqueline Hidalgo, Associate Professor of Latina/o Studies and Religion, Williams College

Susan J. Brison, Eunice and Julian Cohen Professor for the Study of Ethics and Human Values, Dartmouth College

Carolina Gonzalez Valencia, Assistant Professor, Art and Visual Culture, Bates College

Jamie Desmul, Director of Early Learning, Whatcom Family YMCA

Crystal Kalinec-Craig, Assistant Professor, University of Texas at San Antonio

Ann Marie Ryan, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Education, Loyola University Chicago

Elsa Davidson, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Montclair State University

Dr. Kristine Alexander, Canada Research Chair in Child and Youth Studies, the University of Lethbridge

Suad Joseph, Distinguished Research Professor, University of California, Davis

Kelly Fong, Lecturer, UCLA and California State University, Northridge

Sheera N. Harrell, PhD

Anthony Suarez-Abraham, Dominican University

Ryan Barone, PhD, Adjunct Faculty, Colorado State University

Paula Shatsky

Brenda J. Baker, Associate Professor, Arizona State University

Jennifer L. Ruef, Assistant Professor of Education, University of Oregon

Robin Valenzuela, PhD Candidate, Indiana University

Clayton Pierce, Associate Professor, Western Washington University

Todd Campbell, Professor, University of Connecticut

Judith Preissle, Professor Emeritus, University of Georgia

Dr. Marsha Riddle Buly, Western Washington University

Dr. Kimberly J. Chandler, Associate Professor, Xavier University of Louisiana

Gloria M. Rodriguez, Associate Professor, University of California, Davis

Bethany Moreton, Professor of History, Dartmouth College

Christine Starr, Doctoral Candidate, University of California, Santa Cruz

Beth Warren, Associate Professor, Boston University

Jacquelyn BakerSennett, PhD, Professor, Western Washington University

Dr. Karmella A. Haynes, Assistant Professor, ASU School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering

Elizabeth Chin, Professor, ArtCenter College of Design

Eugenia Pittman, Instructor, Dept. of Human Development, Washington State University

Cinthya M. Saavedra, Associate Professor, The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

Christine Stanton, Assistant Professor, Montana State University

Gail M Newman, Harold J Henry Professor of German and Comparative Literature, Williams College

Fikile Nxumalo, assistant professor, UT Austin

Tiffany S. Lee, Professor, Native American Studies, University of New Mexico

Dixie Hu, Ph.D, The Ohio State University

Verónica Vélez, Associate Professor, Education and Social Justice, Western Washington University

Shana Siegel, PhD

Lisa Alvarez, Professor of English, Irvine Valley College

Eulàlia P. Abril, Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago


[1] See letter by MaryLee Allen Director of Policy Children's Defense Fund

[2] Taking Migrant Children From Parents Is Illegal, U.N. Tells U.S, June 5, 2018

[3] (NY TImes , April 20, 2018

[4]Separating Families is Inhumane, ACLU

[5] Trump suggests separation of families at border is a negotiating tool, CNN, June 16, 2018.

[6] Inside the Former Walmart That Is Now a Shelter for Almost 1,500 Migrant Children, NY Times June 14, 2018

[7]Voices of San Diego, Letter to the Court, , June 4, 2018

[8]  Inside the Former Walmart That Is Now a Shelter for Almost 1,500 Migrant Children, NY Times June 14, 2018

[9] Border Patrol Kicked, Punched Migrant Children, Threatened Some with Sexual Abuse, ACLU Alleges, Newsweek, May 23, 2018

[10] AAP Statement Opposing Separation of Children and Parents at the Border,

[11] ACP Objects to Separation of Children from their Parents at Border

[12] APA Statement Opposing Separation of Children from Parents at the Border, 

[13] Ginding & Poggio (2009). Family Separation and the Educational Success of Immigrant Children, UMBC Policy Brief No. 7; McKenzie, M..J. Bosk, E. & M.D. Zeanah (2017). It’s not just cruel to separate a breastfeeding baby from a mom. It’s medically dangerous, Vox, June 16, 2018; Separating Families at the Border — Consequences for Children’s Health and Well-Being, The New England Journal of Medicine;

Separating Migrant Children From Their Families Is Wrong, UNICEF, May 29, 2018; Zero to Three Letter to the Department of Homeland

d Security, May 30, 2018.

[14] Doctors Concerned About 'Irreparable Harm' To Separated Migrant Children, NPR, June 15, 2018.

[15] Nations have separated children from parents before. It never ends well. Washington Post, March 17, 2017.