What We Believe

By Janlee Wong

While Americans are split about many actions that Trump has taken, for social workers it’s always best to fall back on the NASW Code of Ethics to guide us. We fight for human beings regardless of their race, creed, religion or national origin. We shouldn’t start dividing up humans by any of these categories and start saying whole groups are bad as some have said of immigrants, supporters of the Affordable Care Act, Muslims, or those who are pro-choice or pro-life.

The social worker focus on immigrants is to help those who are already here, as many churches are doing. This issue won’t be resolved until we have immigration reform and a pathway to legal status. In the meantime, immigrants are human beings, some of whom need our help.

Most social workers see health care as a right, not a privilege. A few feel that it’s more like a service that one can decline and shouldn’t be forced to have. Again, the social worker focus on health care is about what’s essential for healthy bodies and healthy minds. It is especially true for vulnerable populations, children and seniors. We can’t let big business, health care corporations decide who gets health care based on their ability to pay, nor can we view health care as how to make more profit for big business and corporations.

Religion has always been controversial and in conflict throughout human history. That’s why our founding fathers decided that freedom of religion would be one of our rights that can’t be taken away from us. While this right has kept us out of religious wars for the most part, we continue to have acts of violence directed at religions and religious people ranging from the anti-Catholicism and anti-semitism, the persecution of the Mormons to the killings in a Charleston church and in mosques and temples. One of the ways social workers protect this right of religion is to support groups that might be under attack for their religion or race.

National origin is also under attack. You could be a Muslim, Christian or a Jew from the seven countries that Trump wants to extreme vet (or keep out of the U.S.) for no reason other than that’s where you’re from. Or you could be targeted because you’re from a country that has nothing to do with terrorism, but you’re Mexican. We learned a lesson from the World War II Japanese–American internment that some still haven’t learned. You can’t wholesale condemn a group because of their race, national origin or religion.

Social workers support the rights of people who have pro-life or pro-choice views. That’s tough for some people to hear because it’s such a divisive issue, but freedom of thought, expression and belief are embedded in our rights and culture. We support women’’s health including decisions about reproduction and reproductive health. We believe organizations like Planned Parenthood are about supporting women and men in their choices.

You can do a few things that can help you and what we believe in. Last month, NASW or NASW members participated in the Martin Luther King Day march, the Planned Parenthood Rally and the Women’s March in Sacramento. Marching, protesting and raising your voice raises your mind and spirit. You will be inspired to keep going.

Here’s something else you can do that we just put out via email:

Dear NASW Member,

Now that the election is over and we have a new President, many NASW members want to know how they can advocate for marginalized communities. As social workers, we know that our Code of Ethics states:

“The social worker should advocate changes in policy and legislation to improve social conditions and improve social justice.”

One of the first steps you can take is to sign up for our Advocacy Listserv that is operated out of our National office. If you sign up you will be sent periodic messages with instructions on how to write a letter or how to make a phone call to your U.S. Senator, Member of Congress or State Legislator on issues such as immigration and protecting the Affordable Care Act.

Please follow this link and sign up today!



We will be sending out more emails in the near future because unfortunately, now more than ever, some of our most basic freedoms are threatened. We are developing an organized, systematic approach to fight the Administration’s agenda — such as the President’s threat to deport millions, to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and to defund Planned Parenthood. These are fights that we as social workers should and must take on. We are calling upon you to take action on these and other issues. Please stay tuned!