Jun 20 2018

An open letter from University of Washington College of Education faculty regarding the federal policy of separating immigrant families at U.S. border crossings.

University of Washington College of Education faculty unequivocally oppose separating children from their parents as part of United States immigration enforcement. A core mission of the College is to support and care for the mental and physical health, and cultural well-being of all families through education, broadly defined. We understand that there is no bond more important for the vitality and success of students than that between children and their family members. Destroying that bond undermines children’s basic human right to receive an education, be it in school or from parents and elders in their families.

As teachers and educators, psychologists, leaders, researchers, as well as active family and community members, we are well aware of the negative impacts of tearing apart families. Enforced separation of children and parents mirrors the treatment and destruction of families during African enslavement and Indian Removal in the United States. Today, US Border Patrol agents supervising children in holding centers for indeterminate amounts of time are not educators nor caregivers, so should not assume such essential roles in the lives of thousands of young people. We therefore view it as a responsibility to unequivocally denounce what is currently happening.

Decades of research with youth in the US has shown that it is in the best interest of children and parents to keep families together. The process of separation has often been referred to as traumatic and organizations have implemented a variety of practices to reduce the traumatic effects of even temporary separations. We know that the longer children are separated from their family, the greater their risk for anxiety and depression. Research has also shown that childhood anxiety and depression are among the most serious long term effects of exposure to Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and trauma. ACEs are known to be powerful social determinants of adult suicide, depression, anxiety, and substance use. Separating children from their parents is a traumatic Adverse Childhood Experience and we are perpetrating the disruption of the healthy psychological development of these children. This practice is likely to cause irreparable psychological damage. 

In accordance with our decency as human beings, our professional ethics, and international law we:

  • Demand the immediate release of imprisoned asylum seekers—mothers and fathers—reunite these parents with their children, and stop the implementation of this childhood trauma.
  • Request that Washington State agencies and the City of Seattle NOT use public funds and resources to facilitate the current immigration enforcement practice of separating children from their parents—and instead offer humanitarian protection for families at borders and reunite already separated children and parents.
  • Ask Federal Courts located in Washington to respect international law as stated in Article 9(1) of the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner Convention on the Rights of the Child: holding asylum-seeking parents in jails, separate from their children, is illegal.  
  • Ask that the Washington State Legislature allocate funds for educators and staff professional development on how to support young people who have experienced the trauma of being separated from their parents.
  • Ask that the Washington State Legislature allocate funds for more school mental health professionals and school based health centers to support the mental health needs of the increasing number of children experiencing trauma.

We urge other University of Washington colleges, schools, and departments, the Provost’s Office, and the Office of the President, to stand in solidarity with these demands, and to state their own, according to respective areas of expertise.


Katie Headrick Taylor, Assistant Professor
Maggie Beneke. Assistant Professor
Janine Jones, Associate Professor
Philip Bell, Professor
Elham Kazemi, Professor
Carly Roberts, Assistant Professor
Kara Jackson, Associate Professor
Enrique Suárez, Postdoctoral Research Associate
Katherine Lewis, Assistant Professor
Carrie Brennan, Senior Lecturer
Leslie Rupert Herrenkohl, Professor
Scott Spaulding, Senior Lecturer
Nathalie Gehrke, Professor Emerita
Joy Williamson-Lott, Professor
Nancy Rosenberg, Senior Lecturer
Ana Elfers, Research Associate Professor
Anthony B. Craig, Director/Professor of Practice
Mark Windschitl, Professor
Marge Plecki, Professor Emerita
Nancy Hertzog, Professor
Selma Powell, Director/Senior Lecturer
Manka Varghese, Associate Professor
Meredith Honig, Professor
Kristie Kauerz, Affiliate Assistant Professor
Gail E. Joseph, Associate Professor
Brinda Jegatheesan, Associate Professor
Phillip Markley, Lecturer
Jessica Thompson, Associate Professor
Ken Zeichner, Professor Emeritus
Karin Lohwasser, Education Researcher
Jondou Chase Chen, Research Associate
Emily Shahan, Teaching Associate
Karen Mikolasy, Teaching Associate
Soojin Oh Park, Assistant Professor
Tom Halverson, Senior Lecturer
Lynn Dietrich, Senior Lecturer and Program Director
Maxine Alloway, Teaching Associate
Hannah Olson, Teaching Associate
Filiberto Barajas-López, Assistant Professor
Megan Kelley-Petersen, Director
Mia Tuan, Dean
Marisa Bier, Program Director
Ed Taylor, Professor
Ariane Gauvreau, Field Director and Teaching Associate
Marilyn Cohen, Research Associate Professor Emeritus
Mary Clevenger-Bright, Senior Lecturer
Jeremy Erickson, Teaching Associate
Kristen Missall, Associate Professor
Walter Parker, Professor
Roger Soder, Professor Emeritus
Anne Beitlers, Director
Ilene Schwartz, Professor
Steve Kerr, Professor Emeritus
Elizabeth Sanders, Associate Professor
Ann M. Ishimaru, Associate Professor
Holly Schindler, Assistant Professor
Sheila Valencia, Professor
Roxanne Hudson, Associate Professor
Nancy Beadie, Professor
Megan Bang, Associate Professor
Shirley Brice Heath, Visiting Professor
Dafney Blanca Dabach, Associate Professor
Ann O’Doherty, Associate Dean

Staff and Students

Ari Asercion, Communications Specialist
Thérèse Dugan (PhD ’12)
Kent Jewell, Program Support Supervisor II
Wendy Jans, Instructor
Jenny Gawronski, Graduate student
Stacey Berglind, Graphic Designer
Kristin Brewster, Data Collector
Maria Mungarro, Data Collector
Michelle Perez, Data Collector/Research Coordinator
Scott Macklin, Director of Interactive Learning
Dayton Allemann, Software Developer
Lea Bachman, Research Coordinator
Mari Taylor, Program Director
Heather Floyd, Early Childhood Specialist
Marcy Maki, Community and Tribal Liaison Lead
Cintia Martinez, Research Coordinator/Data Collector
Laura Marshall, Community Liaison
Kim Votry, Curriculum Specialist & Professional Development Trainer
Randi Shapiro, Executive Director EarlyEdU
Jennifer Campbell, Academic Adviser
Jessica Egbert, Program Specialist
Jodi Newman, Senior Lecturer
Rebecca Wong, Research Coordinator
Nancy Price, Center Manager/Research Assistant
Maria Cristina Limlingan, Research Scientist
Donna M. Chang, Ratings Manager
Stuart Sweazey, Staffing and Operations Manager
Kendra Lomax, Continuing Education Specialist
Elane Jones, Program Coordinator
Keats Landis, Program Coordinator
April Boyce, Graduate Student Research Assistant
Virginia Tse, Assessment Lead and Graduate Research Assistant
Brittany Scott ’17
Ling-Hui Chu, Research Coordinator
Lindsey Smith, Research Coordinator/Data Collector
Annabel Cholico, Academic Adviser
Erin Stewart, Graduate Student Research Assistant
Renee Shank, Program Coordinator
Katherine Kovacich, Research Coordinator
Lisa Murakami, Academic Adviser
Melissa Woodrow, Producer
West Keller, Professional Development Specialist/Teaching Associate
Kerry Soo Von Esch (PhD ’13)
Erin Lane, Graduate Student Research Assistant
Tammy Jez, Academic Planning Specialist
Santhi Perumal, Assistant Dean of Finance and Administration
Saraswati Noel, Graduate Student
Martin Howell, Assistant Dean for Academic & Student Affairs
Elzena McVicar, Graduate Student Research Assistant
Angelica Macklin, Assistant Director Multimedia Communications
Laura Burke, Program Coordinator
Alison Fox, Research Associate
Hannah Nieman, Graduate Student Research & Teaching Assistant
Christian Love, Graduate Student Research & Teaching Assistant
Adrian Cunard, Teaching Associate
Ryan Quigtar, Community Partner Liaison