Statement on Family Separation at the United States/Mexico Border by the Faculty of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Chican@/Latin@ Studies Program (July 2018)

As scholars of Chicanx and Latinx Studies and other academic fields we unequivocally denounce the practice of separating families by the United States Immigration Customs Enforcement under the direction of the current administration. The separation of minors from their parents and primary care givers as part of border enforcement is not only immoral but a grievous violation of human rights.  We, as educators and members of diverse communities, call for an immediate end to these violent actions and for the reunification of all minors with their primary care givers.

We are further shocked by the justifications for these cruel practices.  Separation and incarceration are hardly in the “best interests” of the child as claimed by the Department of Homeland Security nor is there credible evidence that they will discourage migration of people seeking refuge in the United States.  The current administration falsely argues that it is powerless to act; these policies are the fault of its political opposition or that it has no discretion in enforcing the country’s immigration laws.  Instead it is clear that the administration’s policy is designed to punish and deter victims of war and social injustice, which in many cases exist in their home countries because of U.S. foreign policies and actions.

At this point, over 2,300 children have been detained and imprisoned and the number will likely to rise.  What we are witnessing is a gross violation of due process and denial of representation for the accused.  Seeking refuge is a not a criminal act.  Furthermore, these practices will have a profound negative psychological effect on the migrant children that will persist throughout their lives. It is irresponsible and harmful to allow these policies to continue.  We demand that the administration stop using children as political pawns.  Such practices offend the conscience and violate American and Wisconsin values.

This kind of separation will cause permanent child development and parent-child attachment trauma.  This practice is inhumane.  Amnesty International has called it “torture,” and the American Association of Pediatrics has named it “child abuse.”  There is a risk that  children will be dumped into a foster care system that cannot support them, or deported. To where and with whom? The negative consequences of this inhumane practice should be taken in account and this policy must be immediately stopped.

For the reasons stated, we demand:

  • A halt to this cruel policy of family separation,
  • Reunification of all minors with their primary care givers,
  • A just and fair process for all seeking refuge, and
  • An immediate stop of state violence against immigrants and their families and communities.


Benjamin Marquez, Professor and Director
Patrick Barrett, Professor
Jim Escalante, Professor
Alberta M. Gloria, Professor
Mary Louise Gomez, Professor
Taucia González, Assistant Professor
Paola Hernández, Associate Professor
Armando Ibarra, Associate Professor
Susan Johnson, Professor
Michael Light, Associate Professor
Rubén Medina, Professor
Alfonso Morales, Professor
Mariana Pacheco, Associate Professor
Stephen Quintana, Professor
Carolina S. Sarmiento, Assistant Professor
Revel Sims, Assistant Professor
Lynet Uttal, Professor
Kate Vieira, Associate Professor