As follow up to our National Call for Action of August 2018, the Association for Child and Youth Care Practice (ACYCP) Advocacy Committee continues to be deeply alarmed by the current crisis experienced by immigrant children and youth on the United States/Mexico border. Excesses committed by the Border Security and ICE personnel, as well as the abhorrent inhumane conditions that families and children in ICE’s detention centers find themselves in (over-crowded cells, limited access to water, sanitation, hygiene supplies, etc.) are unacceptable. Staff of these detention centers need to recognize that they are in violation of children's rights and international standards.
Call for Action:
ACYCP calls the US government to urgently ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Concurrently, Border Security and ICE are implored to arrange for:
- All personnel working in and overseeing operations at the Southern US border need to be trained on appropriate knowledge and skills to meet the needs of distressed children who have been removed from their primary caretakers based on best practice standards in use in the child and youth care field.
- Immediate reunification of the children with their families or identified guardians.
- Provision of professional age-appropriate developmental care for the children in transition to ensure their mental and emotional well-being, including:
- Provision of clean bedding, covers, and change of clothes,
- Provision of toiletries and self-care help appropriate to age and sex/gender,
- Provision of ample warm healthy meals and snacks as appropriate,
- Provision of toys and games that are age-appropriate,
- Maintenance of high standards of cleanliness, sanitation, and sanitary aid, and
- Ensuring enough outside space for play and physical exercise.
To give context to the current situation, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child was ratified 30 years ago by 190 nations; the United States was not one of them. By 2017, the United States was the only member of the U.N. that had not agreed to standards of youth well-being.
While the U.N. rights, especially those of freedom of religion and expression were derived from U.S. laws, ratifying the UN Convention would provide mandate and a framework for action in enforcing child protections. The excesses and abuses witnessed at the border against migrant families and children are in violation of basic human rights and international standards. They are in direct conflict with Article 2 of the UN Convention.
Yours in the faith that every youth worker makes a difference in the lives of the most vulnerable children,
ACYCP Board of Directors and Membership