College of Health Sciences and Human Services

Department of Social Work

New Resources on Parent-Child Separations: The U.S. Southwestern Border Crisis

Dr. Karen Rotabi

When the current Presidential administration refused to allow a UN special rapporteur investigate the parent-child separation crisis on the Southwestern border, our own Dr. Karen Smith Rotabi partnered with colleagues Dr. Carmen Monico (Elon University) and Dr. Justin Lee (Idaho State University) to investigate.

Undertaking that which is called a “desk review” by the United Nations, the only methodological approach possible given the lack of government transparency, was deep and extensive. The research team collected investigative news stories, emerging legal documents and reports from organizations like UNICEF and American Civil Liberties Union along with inputs from key informants. Then summarizing the findings was a major undertaking that resulting in 2 forthcoming publications in the Journal of Human Rights and Social Work.

To accomplish this critical human rights research, first the team focused on their prediction of forced adoptions of children as well as the government’s loss of almost 1500 children nationwide. This work was predictive of that which is now widely being reported, including a February 2019 Congressional hearing on the matter. Many children remain missing, there are hundreds of reports of sexual abuse, and some children are now entering into adoption arrangements even with a California court order to expedited family reunions to avoid such abuses.