WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) is deeply troubled and concerned about Trump administration removal raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents on migrant undocumented families. The raids, which began this weekend, will have devastating long-lasting harm on children, families and communities. The administration has ordered ICE to target undocumented asylum-seeking immigrants—including families with children—who have removal orders.
Removal Raids Cause Traumatic Emotional Injury to Children
Research conducted by the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), revealed that immigrant and asylum-seeking children are significantly impacted by governmental actions such as removal raids. For example, children who witness the arrest of a parent, particularly in their own home, are at greater risk of developing long-term post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms which have enduring negative implications on their emotional growth and adjustment. Additionally, anxiety and other symptoms associated with mass removal raids, detention or deportation of a parent disrupt the family’s overall social, emotional, and economic stability, even for those family members that have not been issued a removal order.
Many social service organizations and mental health providers, including social workers, will be called upon to respond to this latest round of senseless family separations initiated by the Trump administration. NASW supports and stands behind these providers who will bear the unnecessary burden of mitigating the long-term traumatic harm to children whose families were needlessly torn apart.
The administration’s planned raids on migrant undocumented families began on Sunday. The raids are expected to occur in up to 10 cities, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston, Denver, Miami, New York, Baltimore, Chicago and Atlanta. However, there is nothing in the President’s order that prevents ICE from also conducting enforcement actions in other areas by targeting unaccompanied youth who have aged out of federal care and protections and who have removal orders against them. It is anticipated that the raids will affect approximately 2,000 individuals, with cascading impacts on their families and communities.
It is important to note that being issued a removal order does not mean the individual or family can be automatically arrested, detained and deported. There is a right to appeal within 30 days, before the order becomes final. That said, the administration does not distinguish between those who have pending appeals or are still within their 30-day appeal period.
How Can Social Workers Help?
There are several ways that social workers can help mitigate the impact of these raids on affected children, families, and individuals. For example, social workers who provide services to or interface with immigrant communities can assist by offering guidance to those are at risk of an ICE raid, including:
– Advising individuals and families to contact an immigration services provider about what options are available to them if they feel they may be a target of a removal raid.
– Helping families develop a family preparedness plan.
– Providing information and resources that will help individuals and families know their rights before speaking to officers or letting officers inside their homes.
– Helping individuals and families understand or access resources that explain their legal options and when to speak with an attorney.
It is also essential that every social worker get involved in promoting sound immigration policies. The current removal raids are but one of many anti-immigrant actions that the Trump administration will likely undertake leading up to the 2020 elections. NASW encourages social workers to regularly contact their lawmakers to express their concerns about harmful and unjust immigration policies and to provide the much-needed social work perspective in state and local-level immigrant advocacy coalitions and related justice efforts.
For more information and resources on this and related immigration issues, please see below:
The National Association of Social Workers (NASW), in Washington, DC, is the largest membership organization of professional social workers. It promotes, develops, and protects the practice of social work and social workers. NASW also seeks to enhance the well-being of individuals, families, and communities through its advocacy.