Coalition of over 175 mayors and county executives and international children’s charity jointly developed a report on local governments’ responses to the family separation crisis and best practice in assisting separated families.
Today, the Cities for Action (C4A) coalition and the Lumos Foundation announced their joint report, outlining how local governments stepped up in the midst of the 2018 U.S. family separation crisis, with case studies from New York City, the City and County of Los Angeles, and San Antonio. The report also highlights the risks of institutional congregate care for children, underscoring the need to avoid family separation outside of extraordinary circumstances.
As the federal government considers policy changes that would enable the expanded detention of immigrant children and families, it is essential that policymakers and practitioners understand the harms of child detention and best practices for supporting the immediate care of separated children and the reunification of families.
“It’s unconscionable to imagine taking a toddler from his mother or a child from her father, when all these families want is to find safety,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio, City of New York. “As Mayor of this ultimate city of immigrants, I will continue fighting with my fellow New Yorkers against the cruelty of the Trump Administration. And we will continue to support the separated children and reunited families who remain in our city any way we can."
“When we learned that the President’s policies meant that separated children were being brought to New York City, our resolve to support and advocate for these children never wavered,” said Bitta Mostofi, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. “The de Blasio Administration quickly mobilized to provide legal help, specialized health and mental health care, and other supports for separated children brought to our city. Together with the Lumos Foundation, our work demonstrates that family separation is unconscionable and that any proposal contemplating indefinite family detention must be strenuously opposed.”
“Lumos is honored to be working with the Cities for Action to support the safe reunification of children with their families,” said Georgette Mulheir, Chief Executive Officer of the Lumos Foundation. “Separating children from their families causes severe trauma and toxic stress – the results of which can last a lifetime. Lumos works all over the world to safely remove children from the neglect of institutions and return them to family care – we are delighted to be able to apply our expertise to the desperate plight of children separated at the border in the US.”
Read the full report here.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security separated over 2,600 immigrant children from their parents, sending the children to federally-contracted foster care providers in several U.S. cities. The federal government was ill-prepared to handle the family separation crisis, which led to a divergence from best practices for treatment of children in federal custody, and a need for new actors—local governments, legal services providers, NGOs, and grassroots communities—to step in and address the gaps.
This report shares gaps observed by these actors during the crisis and highlights their responses. In so doing, it cautions against future expansion of family separation practices—while approximately 400 children remain separated across the United States—and warns that family detention is not a viable alternative.