Statement by AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine on the Trump Administration’s Detainment of Immigrant Children

Tony Pals,
(202) 238-3235, (202) 288-9333 (cell)

Collin Boylin,
(202) 238-3233, (860) 490-8326 (cell)

Statement by AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine on the
Trump Administration’s Detainment of Immigrant Children

June 22, 2018

We express our continuing concern for the thousands of children and their families who are living in trauma and experiencing the pernicious effects of “zero tolerance” and separation policies and practices that render irreparable harm.

We join with others in the scholarly and research communities and the groundswell of people in our country who are deeply concerned about the effects of the Trump administration’s policies and practices on the well-being of these children.

The Trump administration’s policy of separating detained immigrant children from their parents or caregivers is not only morally and ethically reprehensible but exposes these children to great risk of emotional and psychological trauma. The research evidence shows that forced separation and detainment of children in situations such as this can have long-lasting effects on their socio-emotional development and well-being, leading to years of behavioral and learning problems. 

For children removed from their parents, the trauma can have pervasive effects throughout their formative years, harming their emotional development and academic growth, with serious lifelong ramifications for individuals, their families, and their communities. The length of time and conditions in which these children are being held, without clear plans for speedy reunification, only compound the likelihood of harm to already vulnerable children. This is not what the United States stands for and cannot be part of our country’s legacy.

Members of the American Educational Research Association are dedicated to advancing knowledge that promotes the well-being of children, and substantial numbers of scholars in our community have long contributed to the evidence base in this area.

Although the Trump administration has rescinded its separation policy, it still falls on the administration to act immediately and forcefully to reunite the thousands of children who have been taken from their parents since May. It is the administration’s responsibility to ensure that, moving forward, its practices and policies support children and do not place them at further risk. For now, the clock is ticking for these children and their families.

About AERA
The American Educational Research Association (AERA) is the largest national interdisciplinary research association devoted to the scientific study of education and learning. Founded in 1916, AERA advances knowledge about education, encourages scholarly inquiry related to education, and promotes the use of research to improve education and serve the public good. Find AERA on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.