Press Release

Statement by AFT President Randi Weingarten on U.S. Policy Separating Children from Parents

AFT to Join #WhereAreTheChildren Day Of Action

For Release: 

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

WASHINGTON—Earlier this month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced plans to prosecute all immigrants crossing the U.S.‐Mexican border, making it official U.S. policy to routinely separate children from their parents. Hundreds of children have been ripped from their families: 658 kids in the first 13 days of the program alone. That’s on top of the Trump administration losing track of—by their own admission—nearly 1,500 children when they forcibly separated them at the border from their families. Activists, educators and communities around the country are demanding an answer: #WhereAreTheChildren?

On June 1, the American Federation of Teachers and President Randi Weingarten will join We Belong Together, the National Domestic Workers Alliance, MomsRising, MamasConPoder, the American Civil Liberties Union, United We Dream, MoveOn and others, in a National Day of Action for Children. The union will also support actions across the country demanding a stop to the practice of separating children from their families and highlighting the moral crisis of their cruel and inhumane treatment at the hands of immigration enforcement officers. Weingarten issued the following statement:

“Today, in 2018, in a just and supposedly free America, babies are being ripped from their parents’ arms. Mothers and fathers are being beaten and murdered by government officials. These policies are typical of tyrannical and dictatorial regimes, not democracies. America is forcing families to make the heartbreaking decision of whether to leave their children behind or risk rape, abuse or even death if they try to cross the border with them.

“In every other context, conservatives and progressives agree that we should be promoting the unification of children and parents. That is the best way parents, child advocates, educators and communities can offer children the safety, opportunity and representation they need to thrive. But the Trump administration has proven that it does not have the best interests of children at heart. Their actions destroy the fabric of our humanity, and corrode our nation’s legacy of freedom and justice.  

“We are rallying to put an end to these horrific practices and to demand that the taxpayers not be asked to spend a single cent more on funding the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement or U.S. Customs and Border Protection agencies until they stop separating children from their families and abusing those currently in detention. We must fund instead attorneys and child advocates that ensure children’s safety and access to immigration court. Let’s focus on family reunification, safety and protecting every child who crosses our borders. This stain on our heritage must stop.”

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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.