The Texas Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) has formed partnerships with legal and civil rights organizations to provide a range of support services for migrant families. NASW is a member of IFSW.
Social workers are responding to the concerns of immigrant families being separated and stripped of their rights by providing holistic assessment services, networking with foster care and child protective agencies, and collaborating with Refugee and Immigration organizations that identifies families that are fleeing for violence, poverty and other traumatic conditions. In addition to proving professional assistance with trauma and separation, the service includes advocating within the court and legal structures that immigrants should not be, incarcerated, criminalized or punished for attempting to escape from untenable conditions.
The Texas social workers are volunteering their time to provide assessments and with the support of the NASW and partner organizations have been using all their resources to gain access to detention centres as well as creating rights-based policies and guidance for legislators. There has been a significant positive response from the families wanting to use these services.
Dr. Lusk, a professor at the University of Texas at El Paso, has conducted research on forced migration from Central America and Mexico for the past ten years said:
“The separation of migrant and refugee children from their parents is deeply problematic in several ways. Most importantly, it is has the potential to cause great harm to the children. Forced separation of children from parents causes toxic stress, overwhelming the child’s sense of security and integrity. It can create sustained anxiety and panic, deeply erode trust and have lasting effects. Secondly, it is cruel and ineffective to use the threat of child separation as a deterrent to forced migration. Refugees and forced migrants from the Central American triangle countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador do not believe that they have a choice – they flee extreme violence, extortion and threat of death. They will continue to migrate as long as the conditions in their countries are untenable and unsafe. A longer-term solution to the situation would be to invest in the region through international development assistance that builds schools, creates jobs through economic investment and which promotes the capacity of government to secure the safety of citizens of the region.”
IFSW Secretary-General Rory Truell commented, “IFSW gives it’s full support to NASW, the social workers, researchers and others at the frontline in Texas. The profession has been extremely concerned about the families who have made the hardest journeys to escape poverty and violence, and then are further inflicted with more significant trauma by being separated at the border. It is totally inhumane, but these social workers and others who are safeguarding and advocating for the rights and welfare of the families, give us hope and set an example for others to follow.”