"Forcibly separating children from their families is not a new federal policy strategy - it has been used since America's founding. The forcible separation of families, and the cruel detention of children into camps and cages, echoes the experiences of America's first target- Native communities. Photographs and audio recordings of young children, terrified and alone, match the descriptions and horrors our communities experienced.
Native communities understand the heartbreak of forcible separation. We know the impacts and long-term trauma immigrant families, parents, and children will now face. The damage is done- it cannot be undone with the stroke of a pen. Decisions that come only as a matter of politics, not of morality, will not heal their wounds. Our children and our families are still healing from the boarding school era- when centuries of discriminatory federal policies ripped children from their families in an effort to assimilate us. This policy was, and is, a cruel and deliberate punishment for being different and unique. We have always hoped that America's leadership would reflect, and learn, from a past that is shameful and cruel- it seems that it has not.
Since our founding in 1969, National Indian Education Association (NIEA) has represented American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian students across the United States- our hope is that our students, and all students, can be loved, cherished, and thrive. Educators will continue to be frontline healers- working to mend the minds, trust, and dreams of the children forcibly detained.
We join the thousands of voices asking for compassion and support for those hoping for a better life. We welcome the children hoping for a better life, full of love, joy, and opportunity."