Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights Commends Child Welfare Experts’ Overwhelming Opposition to Parent-Child Separation

Today, 540 organizations, hailing from all 50 states, Washington DC and Puerto Rico, called upon DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to end the practice of separating children from their parents at the U.S. border. These organizations, experts in child welfare, child protection, and child health and development stressed “the overwhelming evidence that children need to be cared for by their parents to be safe and healthy” and “evidence that separating children from their mothers and fathers leads to serious, negative consequences to children’s health and development” to argue that “forced separation disrupts the parent-child relationship and puts children at increased risk for both physical and mental illness.”

At the Young Center, we could not agree more. Policy Director Jennifer Nagda commented, “It is not in any child’s best interests to be separated from a parent solely to enforce immigration policy.” For more than a year, Young Center Child Advocates in each of our eight programs across the country have been appointed to children ripped away from their parents by U.S. immigration officials. We’ve worked with infants, toddlers and teens, boys and girls. Children from Central America, South America, and Africa. “Every case is heartbreaking, but our advocates witness firsthand the effect on children who experienced hardship in their home countries—before finding themselves utterly alone, torn away from their mother or father, the most important person in their world,” continued Nagda.

“We’re grateful that hundreds of experts—from every state, working in diverse fields, with different missions and goals—have spoken out so emphatically against this inhumane practice,” said Executive Director Maria Woltjen. We share these experts’ concern that the government is causing lasting, unnecessary harm to these children in a misguided effort to deter or even punish their parents’ migration. And we join them in urging Secretary Nielsen to end this practice immediately.

Read the full letter here. For more information about the Young Center’s work during this crisis, please contact us at

Maddie Witters