Dear IFNA members,

In recent days, we have heard unimaginably tragic news reports of the US Department of Homeland Security separating nearly 2000 children from their parents and placing them in detention centers along the US-Mexico border. This has been done without clear procedures in place for re-unification. These actions are part of the United States' "zero-tolerance policy," punishing these children's parents for illegally crossing the border. Former First Lady Laura Bush (2018) describes the images of the detention centers as "eerily reminiscent of internment camps for U.S. citizens and noncitizens of Japanese descent during World War II, now considered one of the most shameful episodes in U.S. history" (para. 3). Here we are, more than 70 years later, repeating similar, or even worse, harm to children and families. George Takei (2018), an actor, activist, and U.S. citizen with Japanese ancestry, was interned as a 5-year old boy with his family during World War II. He reflected on how his family shielded him the best way they could from their internment. Then he stated, "At least during the internment, we remained a family, and I credit that alone for keeping the scars of our unjust imprisonment from deepening on my soul. . . . I cannot for a moment imagine what my childhood would have been like had I been thrown into a camp without my parents. That this is happening today fills me with both rage and grief: rage toward a failed political leadership who appear to have lost even their most basic humanity, and a profound grief for the families affected" (para. 6-7).

As an organization, the International Family Nursing Association (IFNA) calls for this deplorable, unethical, and harmful practice to stop. We call for the reuniting of families who have been separated. Never again should families be separated in the name of border security. Families belong together. We urge IFNA members in the U.S. to write to President Donald Trump, Senators, Congressional Representatives, and/or the Department of Homeland Security Likewise, IFNA members living outside the United Stated could write the U.S. embassies within their countries regarding their concerns.  As family nurses, we have a moral obligation to act. Our voices may be our best resource.

As President of the International Family Nursing Association (IFNA), I express our heartfelt concern for these families and pray for their immediate reunion. As an international organization, we send our support to family nurses working with these traumatized families. Further, we endorse the statement made by the American Academy of Nursing highlighting the harmful, long-term health consequences of these actions for both children and families.

Finally, the IFNA Board of Directors has been working on a policy to determine when it is appropriate to comment on issues specific to a particular country. It is a dilemma to know how and when to respond with a public statement.  We invite IFNA Country Liaisons to contact us when issues of concern to family health and family care arise in their countries so that we might highlight them on the IFNA website. We welcome comments from all IFNA Members on how IFNA should respond to country-specific issues as an international organization. In addition, we welcome a dialogue among IFNA about the current issue so directly harming families at the US-Mexico border.  
Jane H. Lassetter
President of the International Family Nursing Association

Bush, L. (2018, June 18). Opinions. Laura Bush: Separating children

Takei, G. (2018, June 19). 'At Least During the Internment ...' Are Words
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