Open letter from iSchool faculty on federal immigration policies

Friday, June 22, 2018

An open letter from University of Washington Information School faculty regarding federal immigration policies resulting in family separation and inhumane treatment.

The recent policy mandating the separation or detention of children is reminiscent of former U.S. policy (1870s-1970s) that forced Native children as young as 4 into military and church-run schools, hundreds and sometimes thousands of miles away from their homes. The lasting impact from this assimilation agenda for Native peoples is still measurable in the form of addiction, abuse, suicide, and mental health issues among survivors. The severe and irreparable harm to children, families, and our broader community caused by family separation has been widely corroborated by our University colleagues in psychology, education, social work and other fields.

Throughout the U.S. and across multiple recent administrations (Republican and Democratic), thousands of deportations initiated by a traffic stop or other random events have resulted in families being separated, with thousands of kids left behind with relatives or in foster care.

The end of systematic separation of children at the borderĀ is important, but not enough to align our policies with the values upon which our nation was founded.

All family separations and deportations that separate families need to be halted, not just those at the border. Further, a new, inclusive immigration policy needs to be developed that recognizes the humanity, contribution, safety, and unique circumstances of all people seeking asylum, residency, and citizenship.

Access to opportunity for all people is central to who we are as a nation and as a University of Washington community. At the iSchool, diversity and inclusion is a core tenet that guides our admissions, staffing, coursework, and research focus areas.

Our research in library science, data access, information behavior, human centered design and system building, and data violence has focused heavily on supporting and creating equity among marginalized, displaced, and underrepresented populations, including refugees and immigrants. We know that information practices can reinforce and even entrench power relations, resulting in discrimination and violence against minority populations, including refugees and immigrants. While U.S. immigration policies may only directly impact some, all of our lives are shaped by the cultural norms they profess.

We demand immediate and decisive action on the part of the U.S. government to reform and enforce our immigration policy in a humane and inclusive manner that honors and respects the contributions of all immigrants.

UW iSchool