Social Workers Shea-Porter, Others Speak on ‘Abhorrent’ Child Separations at the Border

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Undocumented immigrant children at a U.S. Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, Texas. U.S. Customs and Border Protection photo

WASHINGTON, DC— Congresswomen Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) and Barbara Lee (CA-13), Chair of the Congressional Social Work Caucus, Congresswoman Susan Davis (CA-53), Congressman Luis V. Gutiérrez (IL-04), and Congresswoman Karen Bass (CA-37) today released the following statement on the Trump Administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, which is currently separating children from their parents at the border:

“The Trump Administration’s policy of separating children from their parents is terrifying and frankly, abhorrent. Reports indicate that very young children– who are already fleeing dangerous conditions at home including domestic violence – are being taken from their parents. Families are often separated by hundreds of miles, and children are being housed in inadequate facilities. As social workers, we understand the profound impact that family separation has on a child’s developmental growth and on our society. These heartless policies instill a sense of helplessness and despair in children and could result in long-term trauma and health repercussions.

“The American Academy of Pediatrics has stated that the separation of children from parents, and detention in DHS facilities that do not meet the basic standard of care for children, pose a significant threat to their long-term health and well-being. Their findings have led them to recommend that children in the custody of their parents should never be detained or separated from a parent unless a competent family court makes that determination.

“Every passing day of separation has grave consequences for these children’s well-being. These are innocent children who have done nothing wrong. Forcing them to suffer at the hands of the US government is inhumane and un-American. We are taking all actions possible to end this brutal policy and reunite children with their families.”


Between May 6 and May 19, 658 children were separated from their parents. No law currently requires the separation of families. Under the Trump Administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, adults are separated from their children and prosecuted while their children are detained before being placed into shelters, the custody of a sponsor, or a foster home.


Before running for Congress in 2006, Shea-Porter founded and led a social services agency. She has a bachelor’s degree in Social Services from UNH and a master’s degree in Public Administration. Among other things, she taught parenting classes for at-risk children and saw the damage done when children do not have a nurturing environment and parent with them.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee represents California’s 13th Congressional District. She has a Master of Social Work from the University of California – Berkeley, specializing in psychiatric social work. During her graduate work, Lee founded the Community Health Alliance for Neighborhood Growth and Education (CHANGE, Inc.) which provided mental health services to many of the East Bay’s most vulnerable individuals.

Congresswoman Susan Davis represents California’s 53rd Congressional District. She earned a BA in Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley and a Masters in Social Work from the University of North Carolina. She practiced in medical and psychiatric settings, particularly focusing on children and families.

Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez is the Dean of the Illinois delegation and a thirteen-term Member of Congress from Chicago.  He is a Member of the Judiciary Committee and the Chair of the Immigration Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

Congressmember Karen Bass represents California’s 37th Congressional District. She earned her Masters in Social Work from the University of Southern California and is co-chair and co-founder of the bipartisan Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth, which focuses on improving this country’s child welfare system.

Jarrett Freedman

Press Secretary

Legislative Assistant

Office of Congresswoman Shea-Porter (NH-01)

1530 Longworth House Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20515

P: (202) 225-5456

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