Project: Advocacy

“Immigration and Separation of Children from their Families” 

Immigration and the separation of children from their families is an act of the government apprehending and removing and separating undocumented families either entering the United States or currently in the United States. It is a cruel and horrifying process that is happening in the modern-day world. Donald Trump’s views and hate speeches particularly on Mexico and immigrants entering the US have continuously shocked the world. On June 19th 2018, during a meeting for the National Federation of Independent Businesses Trump discusses his views on the border separation policy and states “When you prosecute the parents for coming in illegally, which should happen, you have to take the children away. Now, we don’t have to prosecute them, but then we’re not prosecuting them for coming in illegally. That’s not good.“ According to the New York Times article “What’s happening at the US border” (2018) Trump administration in June 2018 court-ordered 2,700 children to be removed from parents who had illegally crossed into the US. The deportation and separation of families and the disregard for human life beyond the term “illegal” has become an emergency crisis that needs intervention, rapid change, and support starting yesterday, today, tomorrow and the future days to come. 

Families, as we know of any shape, size, color, or race, are the first foundations for a child’s development. Lev Vgotsky, a child theorist describes parents as “knowledgeable partners” (Brooks 2011).  Vgotsky discusses in his theory that children learn not only language development through their parents but also use their parents as a cultural reflective mirror. The separation of families will have damaging and long-lasting effects on the parents and the children. Vgotsky developmental theory shows that language development from a child and parent not only supports a child’s cognitive development but it also teaches a child about their cultural values. Children and families who are separated develop emotional trauma. Trauma in children according to Dr. Colleen Kraft “The Impact of Parent-Child Separation At the Border” (September 2018) lack of development age developmentally appropriate due to trauma and struggle to develop their speech, fine motor, and gross skills and are more prone to developmental delays. 

What one must understand in aiding families and children in this inhumane process is that this is not a choice that families make as a vacation or luxury when entering the United States. According to the U.S. Border and Customs Protection, Southwest Border Migration FY 2020 chart during the month of September a total of 54,771 immigrants were apprehended at the border. When interviewing Maria Cortez, an immigrant from Mexico who now shares a mixed family status with her 3 daughters said the choice to come to the United States was to raise her children with the American dream. Maria states the road was difficult entering the United States and coyotes charge up to $8 grand to enter and almost always double their prices. Maria states “many sacrifices were leaving my family behind, but I am a good person who just wanted more opportunities for my daughters and family and a better job and a shot at a future that wasn’t possible in my homeland.” 

You may think that when children are separated at the border that they are still reunited with a distant family member. That is a huge common misconception. Children are sent to government facilities, temporary foster care systems for weeks while trying to find a relative that will willingly take in the child. According to the New York Times article “New York Wants to Know: How Many Separated Children Are Here? What’s Next?” (June 2018) about 300 children who were separated from their families were brought to New York City. Those children were placed in welfare agencies, foster homes, and day programs. Many of those children came from El Savador, Guatemala and Honduras. The majority of these families were seeking refuge from the gang violence and poor economic conditions they faced back home. 

Family separation is a global growing crisis that needs intervention now. Most families who had entered illegally were fleeing from a previous trauma which then makes the mental health impact of the separation even more disastrous and harmful. According to the article “Why Family Separation is growing into a global crisis” (January 2020) there are many different factors that children will face after separation from their families. Children experience more periods of prolonged crying, wetting the bed, mental health issues, development delays, and poor academic achievements… According to a study conducted by psychoanalysis Anna Freud, John Bowlby and Mary Ainsowrth in 1943 they studied children who had been separated from their mothers. Their findings were that children who had been separated from their families displayed more trauma than air raids that children had experienced during World War II. According to the article children who are placed in institutions face poor grades, and social and emotional behavior because of the lack of proper care and proper caregivers. 

When families are being separated from each other, children are not being told they are not seeing their parents again, some are too young to comprehend what is going on or some are just being lied to. Foster caregivers have reported when they meet with children after they have been separated, they obtain a moment of silence while the children just sob uncontrollably. The conditions they are faced with in the detention centers are inhumane and not suitable for anyone. According to the New York Times article “What is Happening at Migrant Detention Centers? Here’s What to Know” (July 2019) they have reported children to sleep on concrete, there’s not enough access to fresh water, there are not enough diapers and their detention centers face an enormous amount of overcrowding. Children in the detention centers developed sickness from malnutrition, physical and sexual abuse, and some even faced death. A reported 7 children died in the detention centers. 

Intervention is needed immediately to act quickly for families and children. Children may start school in a foreign place and not even be able to communicate in the language spoken. They also are not certain if that is the school they are going to be placed in indefinitely. It is an open wound that has to be cared for immediately. Children are often placed in schools in low-income areas. Funding for these schools to have the proper care for immigrant children is crucial. There are many claims that family separation at the border ended but that has been proven to be a lie countless times. In June 2019 Trump signed an executive order ending family separation at the border and promising to reunite the separated families. According to advocates, at least 700 more families were separated after the passing of that executive order. 

There are many ways I plan to advocate and take immediate action and involve the rest of the public who wishes to advocate as well. I will try to network with fellow students and professors in my education classes. I will utilize my interpersonal skills and writing skills to reach my target audience. I will start by in-depth researching the current statistical numbers on children and families who have been separated and the harmful impacts it has caused previously and currently if action is not intervened now. I would interview first-hand families who went through the process and ask how they were directly impacted. I then will combine my research and my testimonials and my foundation of child early development and write a paper to Mayor Deblasio and Governor Cuomo. I would also create informational brochures and pass them out to as many people as I can hand them out too. 

To increase my advocacy on a larger scale I will attend multiple rallies and pass the information on major social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. To increase awareness on these platforms I will market it with the use of hashtags and having other users share their page even if they cannot join creating awareness on the situation is key. I will also start by directing all my calls to Congress. The (AILA) American Immigration Lawyer Association has a call tool that directs all calls to all members of congress. In these calls, I will specifically ask for ending the separation and detention of families.  I will contact the United States Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf and US attorney William Barr through phone calls, social media, letters, and in congressional hearings. I will start a petition as well as sign many petitions such as United We Dream Petition, ACLU petition, and #Familiesbelongtogether campaign. I will also start a go fund page to support free legal services that represent families who have been separated at the border so they can obtain free representation. 

My goal would be to also follow the “money trail” and call out the business that is funding and making these policies possible. Also, gathering volunteers as bilingual interpreters for children and families. Many children were persuaded into signing documents they couldn’t understand. Not all detention centers are at the border, volunteering my time to support and adults by providing moral support can be a huge help for the family’s mental health. Government detention centers that are holding children cannot accept donated goods. I will research private migrant shelters and hold a drive to donate goods, books, stuffed animals to children in need in the shelters. 

I chose this topic because I find it appalling to me and inhumane that in a modern world, we have what can be considered to be modern-day concentration camps. The lack of compassion that the world has exhibited to the families in need was appalling. To view people as “illegal” is morally wrong. We are people and we all deserve the same respect and the same care. To strip a child from their family is cruel and traumatic. I cannot imagine the sleepless night and the cries and sobbing these families must face during these times. It is so sad to see the lack of care for human life.  This topic would impact me as an early childhood educator because I want to create a culturally inclusive classroom. I want to advocate for children who need their voices heard no matter where they are from.

EPIC Message Section 

Dear Donald Trump,

E- Do you realize 2500 children have entered  New York city after being separated from their families at the border? Can you imagine a life without your family? Do you realize this is the equivalent to a modern day concentration camp? I am reaching out in this letter to end this maltreatment immediately so families can be reunited.  My name is Cynthia Cardona and I am a current student at BMCC studying Early Childhood Education. 

P- Many of these children’s family’s whereabouts are still unknown, their children’s identities are unknown and they have entered the foster care system dramatically; changing everything they once had, loved and known and replaced with no hope. Children who abruptly separated from their families and no longer have their support or guidance face severe mental and developmental issues and delays. This is why I am asking to come together and reform the immaration policies and end family separation immediately. 

I- The sudden and abrupt changes need intervention immediately. The hate speeches and stereotypes against immigrants need to stop. America is a country built on the hard work of immigrants. Children and families need proper representation, access to resources in shelters, bi-lingual mentors, and mental health services. Most importantly children need to be reunited with their families immediately. These interventions need to happen now because the damaging effects can have a severe impact academically, developmentally, and physically. 

C- Together I call on you and congress to help reunite families. Provide extra support to those in detention and to morally make the correct choice! 


Cynthia Cardona



2 quotes from Trump that sum up his views on family separations. (2018, June 22). Retrieved from

Correal, A., & Robbins, L. (2018, June 25). New York Wants to Know: How Many Separated Children Are Here? What’s Next? Retrieved from

De la Peña, C. M., Pineda, L., & Punsky, B. (2019, May 30). Working with Parents and Children Separated at the Border: Examining the Impact of the Zero Tolerance Policy and beyond. Retrieved from

Ellison, K. (2020, January 28). Why family separation is growing into a ‘global crisis’. Retrieved from

Lev Vygotsky. (2013, January 29). Retrieved from Vygotsky | Learning Theories and the Family

Riley, H. (2018, September 07). The Impact of Parent-Child Separation at the Border: The Pursuit: University of Michigan School of Public Health. Retrieved from

The Negative Effects of Separating Families at the U.S.-Mexico Border: National Council on Family Relations. (n.d.). Retrieved from–Q25I7HwaAohvEALw_wcB


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