Proposed new border regulations would harm children

ChildFund International is deeply concerned about reports that the Department of Homeland Security proposes to separate parents from their children at the U.S. border as a deterrent to illegal migration. Not only would this forcible separation create further trauma for families who came here fleeing violence and hardship, but it would also cause irreparable harm to the children caught in the maelstrom.

In using children against their parents, the DHS’ proposal fails to take into account the critical importance of a child’s first relationship, which is with his or her parents. Everything depends on it: a child’s ability to learn, to grow, to form healthy relationships.

In ChildFund’s decades of experience working with children in the U.S. and worldwide, we have seen again and again the damage that violence and stress do to a child’s development. And we have seen (and research supports) that the key factor in a child’s healthy development is a responsive, consistent adult caregiver.

The cruelty of separating children from their mothers and fathers flies in the face of Americans’ values that honor the inherent importance of the family unit. ChildFund questions whether government authorities at the border are equipped to not only care for the separated children as they need and deserve, but also to attend to the trauma that the DHS’ proposed actions will cause them, let alone address the long-term effects of this trauma.

“This is a far cry from dropping your child off for the first day of kindergarten,” said Anne Lynam Goddard, president and CEO of ChildFund International. “For mothers, their very love for their children puts them into a position where they must decide either to return to the untenable situation they have fled or be punitively separated from their children, even their youngest. And it’s not only fear but also love that drives parents to seek a better life for their children in the first place.”

Goddard added, “Through ChildFund’s work, we know that the well-being of children and their mothers is intertwined. When those relationships are broken, the trauma and harm to the children are irreparable.”

The DHS’ proposal would also create significant unintended consequences for children. For example, parents may decide that their children are better off attempting the border crossing alone, leaving them vulnerable to violence, exploitation, abuse and neglect.

ChildFund stands with all children, working on both sides of our border to tackle the root causes of the violence and extreme poverty that drive families away from their homes. We call upon the administration to safeguard children by acknowledging and protecting their humanity, their rights and their families, and to recognize the devastating impact that this proposal will have on children and families.


About ChildFund International
ChildFund International partners with communities throughout Asia, Africa and the Americas —including the United States — to create lasting, positive change for children. Our programs address the underlying conditions that prevent children and youth from achieving their full potential. Last year, we reached almost 18 million children and family members. Approximately 200,000 Americans support our work by sponsoring individual children or investing in ChildFund programs. We belong to a global network of 11 organizations, ChildFund Alliance, serving children in more than 60 countries. Together, we advocate for the protection and well-being of all children. Find out more at

Contact Information:
Angela Ross