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NASW to issue Brief with Guidelines to Help Unaccompanied Immigrant Children

Immigrant children watch a World Cup soccer match at the Nogales Placement Center in Arizona. Photo courtesy of VOXXI.

Immigrant children watch a World Cup soccer match at the Nogales Placement Center in Arizona. Photo courtesy of VOXXI.

The National Association of Social Workers is concerned by the massive influx of unaccompanied child immigrants from Central America, and is developing a brief that will include recommendations to help alleviate the crisis.

Many of these recommendations were developed by The First Focus Campaign for Children, a national nonpartisan advocacy organization. NASW has also consulted with state chapters who are working on the ground to help immigrant children.

The NASW Department of Social Justice and Human Rights Issues Brief – Unaccompanied Migrant Children: Overview and Recommendations will be released soon. The brief will contain guidelines that will help social workers, federal agencies and organizations that work with immigrant populations .

These recommendations include:

  • Adopting a policy that all decisions affecting unaccompanied child immigrants should be made in the best interest of the child.
  • Congress should increase funding so there are adequate resources for housing, medical treatment and other services for children who are apprehended.
  • The Department of Human Services should ensure temporary holding facilities and emergency shelters meet humanitarian standards for children set forth in the Flores v. Reno settlement and the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008. These standards should be codified in DHS regulations.

For more on this issue ontact NASW Social Justice Department Director Mel Wilson at



  1. The measures cited above will be helpful in serving the thousands of children and youth flooding into our country. Many have experienced severe trauma at the hands of the drug cartels and traffickers. They will need help on several levels over time.

    Our government needs to focus equal resources to partner with the Honduran, Guatemalin, Mexican and other countries who are overwhelmed by the cartels and economic strain. So far, there hasn’t been any sign of such action by the Obama administration.

  2. These children should be afforded the rights of anyone seeking political asylum. They are in fear for their lives. I want to help in any way I can.

  3. hello would like data on educational resources~

  4. Quick thoughts, after reading the nasw article

    Why is the public not focusing on the parents? No child ever comes free. They are paying coyotes to bring them in. it is impossible to have 2 countries travel without any stops to eat, rest etc. the parents reside in US and/or will come and they invest children to get legal status. This is so wrong morally. It is unbelievable to me to not hold the parents accountable for neglect and exposing children to such harsh conditions that will have long term consequences such as ptsd. Why are we not focusing in the poor children in this state. I recently saw poor children air in PBS channel 8 and it made me so upset of our lack of media while drug traffic and illegal actions such as this unaccompanied minor get front page coverage. We have such a shortage of money that no one is looking into the amount of money that will be given to families that don’t contribute but are a burden to our health system. More and more resources are being mismanaged.

    I recently saw a person that cannt never get Medicaid because she worked all her life and cannt even get free hospice. Spends her $2000 a month on her mortgage.

  5. Political or Humanitarian? Child immigration!
    Sherry K. George
    The recent immigration crisis that has caught national attention has fifty thousand unaccompanied children who crossed the border into United States from Honduras, Guatemala and El-Salvador. The United States Government seems to lean towards the idea of returning the children back to their home countries.
    The crisis has gained much attention due to the immigrant demographic being mostly children. These children have travelled around 3000 miles across desert and rivers and travelling on top of trains to cross the border.
    It is reasonable to state that the United States border needs to be secured and that the taxpayers money should not be spend for people who come to the country illegally however, we must also not forget that the population in question here are children who do not have any responsible caregivers.
    While the Government has it’s process and must take diplomatic action, these are children who are hanging at the scale of decision-making.
    There are large protests going across unites states for setting up shelters in different states. United States government is looking for shelters across America and there is popular consensus to send them back. Meanwhile, thousands of children are being placed in detention centers, military basis and schools. This has not occurred overnight and there needs to be more reforms in the immigration law.
    From a social worker’s perspective, here are a few questions that I ask myself :
    How can we best develop and utilize this precious human resources who under a good investment could become potentially productive Member’s of our society? [These are children from age 5 to 17 who have already been victims of gang wars, rape, violence and also majority of them are non-delinquents and innocent]
    Since our country has a rich history of responding to crisis and provide humanitarian aide and just responses to oppressive situations worldwide. How is the government going to handle the long-term safety of these immigrant children in our ground or back in the home country if they are send back?
    What’s is NASW response to this issue? Are we ensuring the well being and fair treatment of these children while they are here?
    What is the transition plan for these children?
    How can we make sure these children will be safely reunited with their family if they are sent back?
    I understand that there maybe no easy and quick response to this crisis however, I feel that this is a situation that demands our attention. My appeal to our collective conscience will be purely to consider the humanitarian ground of the issue. May the law makers and leaders on whom the weight of political decision making fall make their decisions from this humanitarian ground ascribing value and protecting the basic human rights of these young lives.

  6. I’m sorry but this is not our problem. I feel so bad for these children, but our taxes and cost of living is inflated enough. Why make the majority suffer for the good of a “few”? The only thing our administration needs to do is hold their country’s officials accountable for their actions, not take care of their problems while they sit back and do nothing.

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