Inside Ursula where migrants are separated from their children at largest processing center in U.S. (Reporters / Mega)
Inside Ursula where migrants are separated from their children at largest processing center in U.S. (Reporters / Mega)

Education International denounces the abuse of migrant children by U.S. government

published 21 June 2018 updated 25 June 2018

Education International strongly condemns the forceful and systematic separation of children from their parents, the jailing of infants and minors and the violation of basic human rights displayed by the U.S. government against migrants seeking refuge.

Reports from human rights organizations, lawyers guilds, investigative reporters and the American Association of Pediatrics, detail how the U.S. Government under the directive of the Trump administration, is violating the human rights of minors and committing widespread child abuse.

The stories are devastating: an 18 month old baby taken from his mother after she crossed the U.S. border seeking asylum, a six year old girl begging officers to call the one telephone number she has memorized, an infant violently taken from her mother as she was breastfeeding, children having their stuffed animals confiscated, a father who committed suicide in custody after being separated from his 3 year old son.

Fear and terror for migrant families

“As an educator, a parent, a human being, I am outraged, horrified and disgusted by the cruel, ruthless and sadistic way thousands of families are being treated by U.S. immigration authorities,” said David Edwards, General Secretary of Education International.

“Forcibly separating children from their parents, jailing minors in adult prisons and abusing children while in custody goes against everything we stand for as educators. We are a profession dedicated to the social, emotional, psychological and educational wellbeing of children. These horrific conditions not only cause immediate trauma, but will affect these children for years to come,” he added.

“This policy is clearly designed to cause fear and terror in migrant families who are seeking refuge. Many of them are fleeing for their lives and have already suffered direct violence and trauma. We demand that the U.S. government immediately halt the separation of migrant families, reunite the thousands of children taken from their parents and implement policies that respect the human rights of all who enter their territory.”

EI stands with their affiliates in the United States who have denounced these conditions and are organising with their members to demand an immediate end to these policies.

Joint action with U.S. and Mexico affiliates

The EI General Secretaryl will travel to the U.S. Mexico border as part of a delegation to advocate for a suspension these inhumane policies. The delegation will also bring books to the incarcerated children and support the demand of local education union members to have access to the children in order to ensure their right to an education is met.

EI has joined the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association in presenting a complaint to the United Nations Human Rights Council on behalf of these children and their families.

“We believe this reckless disregard for children and the severe trauma it inflicts violates the U.N. Convention Against Torture, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, and the U.N.’s Recommended Principles and Guidelines on Human Rights at International Borders,”states the letter signed by Education International, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and more than 25 other civil rights organisations.

“We are filing this complaint to the United Nations Human Rights Council in a plea for justice for the children and families subject to torture and gross violations of human rights...This policy is intentionally separating children from their parents who are seeking asylum and protection from civil war, intolerance and social upheaval,” the letter adds.

On both sides of the border

The Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación (SNTE) from Mexico also repudiated the actions of the U.S. government because they are “damaging to the physical and emotional integrity of children who instead of being held inhumanly in cages, should be in school, regardless of their nationality”.

“All governments and the international community have a responsibility to guarantee the right to education of all children, regardless of which country they come from,” added the statement by SNTE an EI affiliate.

You can find t heir statement here.

An international voice

Education International is also calling on its affiliates around the world to express their outrage and condemnation of these human rights violations and the systematic mistreatment of children. Further actions are planned.

As the voice of teachers and support personnel around the world, EI has been a steadfast and persuasive advocate for the rights of children and migrants across the globe, from Australia to Israel, Morocco and Yemen. In Europe, EI has been pivotal in demanding that migrants are treated with dignity and respect and has worked to ensure their children are welcomed in local schools.


Despite the recent executive order signed by U.S. president Donald Trump in response to the increasing public outrage, not much has changed in practice:

  1. Migrant families are still being treated as criminals and jailed.
  2. Families will still be forcibly separated by government officials, but now with a different time frame.
  3. Children continue to be jailed in adult detention facilities and in cages.
  4. The indefinite detention of minors in facilities ripe with physical and psychological abuse is still in place.
  5. The use of psychotic drugs and the forceful medication of detained children is sanctioned.