Social Work Action Network and Social Work Without Borders strongly condemn the barbaric treatment of families seeking asylum in the United States of America – treatment which involves the government inflicting trauma upon children by forcibly removing them from their caregivers and accommodating them in completely inappropriate conditions. The long lasting impact of such experiences are horrific for children and well documented.

Our international profession expects us to identify the needs of those experiencing adversity, to promote the safety and health of all, and crucially to stand shoulder to shoulder with the relatively powerless in having their voices heard and needs met. The international definition of social work demands that we defend social justice. We cannot remain silent as children and families are brutalised by globalised policies that have done so much to promote the social and economic inequality that creates their plight. As social workers, we are appalled by the abusive behaviour carried out by the US government against those seeking safety and a better life, and reject the arguments that suggest migrants are trying to take advantage of welfare opportunities.

We call on the Trump Administration to ensure that the families affected by this inhumane policy are treated in a dignified manner and their rights respected.  The international community should not relent its pressure on the

We stand in Solidarity with the National Association of Social Workers, and call upon the Trump Administration to ensure it acts in every conceivable way to reunite every child with their families as soon as possible.

To the children detained in camps in America, please know that we have not abandoned you. We are shouting loudly for your immediate release and reunification with those who care for you.

To those working with the families and children impacted by this appalling policy, we stand in solidarity with you. Thank you for your empathy and commitment to social justice. We will continue to highlight your fight internationally, as social workers united by a professional commitment to equality and collective responsibility.

Whilst the focus currently is upon the US, we remain vocal critics of UK policies around immigration. We welcome continued scrutiny of the role social workers are expected to play in border control, and support campaigns promoting the rights of migrants.

For further information on how to support those migrants affected in America please see:


Social Workers protest against US Immigration policies which have separated children from their families at the US border.

Social Workers Without Borders, 13th July 2018, London, UK - demonstrating against Donald Trumps US Immigration policies during his visit to the UK.

Social work is based on respect for the inherent worth and dignity of all people, and the rights that follow from this. Social workers should uphold and defend each person’s physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual integrity and well-being.
— International Federation of Social Workers

Short Article by freelance journalist: ADRIANA URBANO from the Protest.

 The 13th of July 2018 saw a quarter of a million people took to the streets of London to express their disdain at Donald Trump’s official visit to the United Kingdom, in the biggest protest he has ever faced outside the United States.

Despite the presence of countless causes at the “carnival of resistance”, it was clear that the rise of the far-right and racism were at the forefront of people’s mind. Whether it was Trump’s splitting up of families at the US border, or Theresa May’s infamous “hostile environment”, the general public is becoming increasingly aware – and angry – of the trauma inflicted upon families and children by modern-day border politics. Trump’s presidency may in fact have one positive: it is forcing the public to acknowledge the human price to pay for these policies.

The global character of the protest was particularly emphasised by speakers who addressed the crowd as it prepared to start marching. Alana, from “Another Europe is Possible” warned of how “the rise of the far right in Europe, in the UK and the States is no longer just a dire gloomy warning” and that immediate action was needed. Speaking from Langham Place, she warned that Donald Trump’s state visit was the “manifestation of the same wave of negative arguments against migration, against people who are vulnerable, against those who are least able to fight back the narrative that migrants are a burden.” The message was echoed by Nick Dearden of “Global Justice Now” who said: “we are also fighting Trumpisj here at home, we are also fighting May’s disgusting treatment of migrants, we are fighting the policies of the Italian government turning back boats of desperate, suffering people.”

As I weave a path through the raucous crowd, I start to think that – perhaps – there is one good thing that is coming out of Donald Trump’s presidency: he has shined a spotlight on the inhumanity of today’s border policies. Almost every single person I talk to mentions Trump’s treatment of children at the US border as one of the reasons for coming to the Anti-Trump Demonstration, with one branding the practice of rightfully inhumane. Comments such as these are unsurprising, as news at the time was being flooded with cases of mistreatment of children in US detention centres. Within the space of a few weeks the world was made aware of the fact that children were being separated from their parents and carers and detained in cage-like structures[1], with some centres prohibiting their young inmates from hugging each other – even in the event of a child trying to comfort a younger sibling[2]. Finally, in order to obtain an unnatural level of compliance, a centre in -Texas  fed children a cocktail of psychotropic drugs without their parents’ consent[3]. The ensuing outrage forced the Trump administration to announce new and speedier efforts to re-unite these families[4], but it was swiftly revealed that some families might never be able to locate their children[5], lost in a maze of detention centres and homes. Once found, the process of re-unification is littered by the hurdles of trauma. In an interview with Democracy Now, psychologist Dr Nancy Burke, a member of the Faculty of the Chicago Center for Psychoanalysis and the Feinberg School of Medicine with Northwestern University, stressed how parents are unprepared to be re-united with dramatically different children. As co-chair of the Psychotherapy Action Network she helped write a pamphlet aimed at parent being re-united with their children. Traumatised children – she explained – have no access to their emotions and their reactions may easily baffle their concerned parents. RE-unification is clearly just another chapter in this traumatising ordeal – not the happy ending many expect.

However, the issue of unaccompanied – and thus extremely vulnerable – minors is one of the most pressing and forgotten issue of our time. Repressive border measures across Europe are leaving children exposed to mind-bending cruelty.  The presence of scores of unaccompanied children in the camp of Calais was a fundamental stimulus in the founding of Social Workers Without Borders.

In order to stop migrants (many of whom refugees) from crossing the Mediterranean and reaching Europe, detention centres have been set up in Libya. Those lucky enough to escape have told me stories of children being kept in the same room as adults, exposed to endemic beatings, sexual violence, lack of food and hygiene. Many go unaccounted for, swallowed by silence and general indifference, anonymous victims of a system that values borders ,more than it values actual human beings. Horrific stories come from the Balcanic routes, were volunteers report finding children in dreadful conditions as they attempt to reach safer European countries.

For all the lip service paid to child welfare, it is clear that migrant children are being forgotten at the end of the pile. The real price is yet to be fully paid, as these traumatised children become adults with heavy psychological burdens to carry.

Over a month after the anti- Trump demonstration in London a question lingers: are the nefarious effects of border policies on children finally coming under public scrutiny?



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