College of Health Sciences and Human Services

Department of Social Work

CSUMB Joins a National Teach-in Effort Focused on Forced Family-Child Separations on the Border

As a Department of Social Work, we heard the call to participate in a national teach-in related to educating our students, faculty, and the greater community on the subject of the human rights abuses taking place on the southwestern U.S./Mexico border, specifically the forced parent-child separations. We were pleased to host Dr. Monico as she made a presentation based on the following paper on this timely topic.

Mónico, C., Rotabi, K. S. & Lee, J. (2019). Forced child-family separations on the U.S. southwestern border under the "zero tolerance" policy: Preventing human rights violations and child abduction into adoption (part 1). Journal of Human Rights and Social Work.

A panel discussion followed, focused on the past abuses as well as new fears related to long-term detention of children and their families fleeing Central America. We encouraged those in attendance to think broadly about the many social forces at play as as consider how we, as social workers, may take advocacy action here in California.

Rene Casas, a first year MSW student, participated on the panel and discussed his experience as an advocate visiting a youth detention facility in Texas. The result was a thought-provoking discussion in which the complexity of current immigration policies were presented with a policy and practice focus. Future-thinking about new waves of asylum seekers originating from Central America and the multiple human rights dimensions was a critical conversation.

In an evening presentation, Dr. Monico shifted focus, and examined more closely, the traumatic experience of children separated from their families. This was a particularly relevant discussion for social work students enrolled in SW 564: Trauma Informed Practice.

Lecturer Lynne White Dixon, LCSW then responded to Dr. Monico's presentation by anchoring the major concepts with the core principles of trauma informed social work practice.

Now on our own San Ysidro border crossing, we have reached a crisis point with tear gassing of women and children as they attempted to seek asylum. Social action in social work has only just begun! As a profession, we have always taken leadership on issues like immigration and the time is now to mobilize in our own communities.

Other universities reporting to be involved in this national teach-in movement include the University of Houston, Rutgers University, and the University of Southern California. Also it appears that in the coming months, Adelphi University, Michigan State University, Monmouth University, Seattle University, University of California at Los Angeles, and others are developing plans to take similar action on their campuses.

Dr. Carmen Monico and MSW student Rene Casas