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Statement on Separating Families at the Border

It is our mission as public health professionals to advance and improve the health and well-being of all people, and in particular the most vulnerable and marginalized.  In light of these commitments, we feel obliged to speak out about the policy recently implemented by the U.S. government of forcibly separating children from their parents as a strategy for border enforcement.  Many of these families are seeking refuge from the trauma of life in war-torn and violence-ridden countries. Others are fleeing domestic abuse and hoping for asylum in the United States.  It is the definition of cruelty and injustice to add to this suffering by ripping frightened, traumatized children (including infants and toddlers) from the arms of their parents and warehousing them in prison-like settings. Both parents and children are at increased risk of adverse outcomes as a result of such trauma.  Hundreds of scientific studies over decades have established unequivocally that traumatic events negatively impact mental and physical health, short and long-term.   Young children are especially vulnerable and are likely to experience problems such as anxiety, depression and learning difficulties. No country that prides itself on “liberty and justice for all” should knowingly inflict such extreme harm on already traumatized and victimized people. This inhumane treatment is incompatible with our values as Americans and public health professionals. We in the leadership of the UIC School of Public Health join our colleagues in the American Public Health Association, American Psychological Association, American Academy of Pediatrics and other health professions organizations in calling on the U.S. government to cease tearing immigrant families apart. We also encourage readers to make their voices heard by contacting their elected representatives regarding this important issue.

Wayne H. Giles, Dean

Linda Forst
Senior Associate Dean

Susan Altfeld, Associate Dean
Academic Affairs

Nadine Peacock, Associate Dean
Diversity and Inclusion

Jackie Finch, Associate Dean
Finance and Resource Planning

John Slavick, Assistant Dean
Student Affairs

Karin Opacich, Assistant Dean
Undergraduate Public Health

Arden Handler
Mentoring Facilitator

Ron Hershow, Director
Epidemiology and Biostatistics (EPI-BIO)

Griselle Torres, Director
Coordinating Center for Public Health Practice

Alyson Lofthouse, Senior Associate Director
Global Health Program

Julie Kong, Director
Research Services

Frank Cervone, Director
Information Technology

Jesus Ramirez-Valles, Director
Community Health Sciences (CHS)

Samuel Dorevitch, Director
Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences (EOHS)

Lisa Powell, Director
Health Policy and Administration (HPA)

Patrick Lenihan, Director
Doctorate in Public Health Leadership (DrPH)