Take Action: End the Family Separation Policy NOW

NASW members can take action to help families separated due to the "zero tolerance" immigration policy, the "zero tolerance" policy seeks to prosecute families who attempt to cross the border and forcibly separate children from parents.

Demand that your elected officials support legislation, policy, and practices that reunite children taken from parents and prohibit removals in the future.

Call Secretary of U.S. Health and Human Services, who is directing the placement of 450 children in tents near El Paso: (202) 205-5445

Call members of the Homeland Security Subcommittees and demand that Congress to stop funding the Department of Homeland Security's abusive separation practice.

Find the U.S. Senate Subcommittee Members here. Find the U.S. House Subcommittee Members here.

NASW Family Separation Policy Statement 

The NASW statement is especially pertinent to social workers in Arizona who work with victims of the family separation policy. "NASW Says Plan to Separate Undocumented Immigrant Children from their Parents is Malicious and Unconscionable." Read NASW's news release from May 30th here: 

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A "zero tolerance" immigration policy that would prosecute families who attempt to cross the border and forcibly separate children from parents is malicious and unconscionable and the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) will press lawmakers to rescind this egregious action.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions on May 7 announced the zero-tolerance policy for immigration into the United States. In announcing the policy, Sessions continued an unacceptable tendency to use language designed to demonize undocumented immigrants. For example, he characterized the parents seeking to escape extreme poverty and violence as “smugglers." This paints the unfair picture that parents are criminals - not asylum seekers fleeing terrible conditions that include death threats against their families.

The “family separation policy” means that all adults will be referred to criminal court for prosecution and their children will be held in the same facilities as minors who came to the United States without their parents. Also, parents may not know where their children are placed.

This awful Department of Justice policy is fully supported by the White House and Department of Homeland Security (DHS). NASW adamantly disagrees with this approach to border security and urges a policy which strengthens and upholds families regardless of their country of origin. 

The decision to separate children from their parents as soon as the parent crosses the border into the United States is both harmful and inexcusable. More concretely, the policy directly imperils the health and safety of immigrants. 

It is wholly un-American to weaponize children as a deterrence against immigration. It is telling that officials from the Department of Health and Human Service (HHS) visited four military bases in Texas and Arkansas to determine whether they could be facilities to house immigrant children. This demonstrates the Trump Administration has a large-scale plan to increase prosecutions of adult undocumented immigrants and deliberately separate children from parents. 

The government intends to send parents to detention facilities run by DHS while their children would go to holding facilities administered by HHS. 

A plan to temporarily house children on military bases is alarming. However, it is even more concerning when we realize that the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) lacks the resources and capacity to safely oversee the influx of children that is sure to result from this ill-advised family separation policy.

HHS and ORR have been criticized in the past for placing children at risk. A 2016 independent investigation found that more than two dozen unaccompanied children had been sent to homes where they were sexually assaulted, starved, or forced to work for little or no pay. 

The investigation revealed that HHS did not complete thorough background checks on many adult sponsors, all of which led the Chicago Tribune to describe ORR as the “worst foster parent in the world.”  

NASW highlights HHS’s problems to show how the emotional trauma inflicted on children removed from parents for reasons unrelated to abuse or neglect may be further exacerbated by placement in unsafe settings. ORR will now be asked to absorb perhaps tens of thousands more children into its overburdened system. The family separation policy is not only irresponsible but reflects a willful disregard for the safety and well-being of these children. 

NASW unambiguously rejects the administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy. It is reprehensible that government officials at the highest levels believe that separating parents from their children is acceptable public policy. 

More than 700 children have been taken from their parents since October 2017, including more than 100 children under the age of four. There is ample research demonstrating that family separation can cause long-term trauma leading to mental, physical, and educational development problems in children. For this and other reasons, this policy cannot continue.  

We agree with members of Congress who have called for immediate hearings to require all heads of the Justice Department, DHS and HHS to explain and justify such an inhumane policy. 

NASW also urges Congress use its constitutional authority to insist the Trump Administration rescind this ill-conceived mandate. We encourage all agencies and elected officials seek a safer future for these children by developing policy that protects them from the harms of separation from parents who violate U.S. immigration policy.   

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW), in Washington, DC, is the largest membership organization of professional social workers. It promotes, develops, and protects the practice of social work and social workers. NASW also seeks to enhance the well-being of individuals, families, and communities through its advocacy.

2018 Legislative Wrap Up

The Arizona Legislature convened on January 8th and concluded Friday, May 4th. A total of 1,328 bills were introduced and 369 bills passed. The last week of session focused on the FY 2019 state budget and meeting #RedforEd demands. The statewide educator walkout lasted six school days and concluded when the Governor signed the budget. 

The budget gives teachers a 9% pay raise next year, which, combined with a 1% raise already given, gets them halfway to the 20% hike #RedforEd organizers demanded. The Governor promised that the second and third installments will come by 2020.  Most of the budgeted amount is allocated to districts; the districts have the discretion to grant raises that may result in teachers receiving differential pay increases.

The budget hikes state spending on schools by $200 million per year more than originally proposed by the Governor.

Besides the education focus at the end of the legislative session, NASWAZ tracked and commented upon legislation according to priorities identified in our member survey.  Below is a summary of those issues the Chapter tracked and monitored. A highlight of the budget items impacting health and human services is also listed.

NASWAZ Statement of Solidarity

The National Association of Social Workers, Arizona Chapter (NASWAZ) stands with educators, support staff, and the community as they call for improved and sustainable funding for education that provides for teachers and support staff, school facilities, maintenance and school resources.

NASWAZ calls upon the Governor and the Legislature to resolve the crisis in education funding quickly and effectively by providing ongoing and sustainable funding for these educational priorities. We know that a quality educational system thrives when children and families’ basic needs for safety, food, shelter and health care are met. We hope that Arizona’s health and human services will be improved in the future to assure effective educational opportunities for all.

We hope a walkout can be avoided and a viable plan that addresses the educational community’s goals can be quickly agreed upon. We call upon the community to support our educators and the school support staff in this historic moment. Contact the Governor and Legislature. Urge them to act to adequately and sustainably fund K-12 education in Arizona.

SB 1519 - Take Action Thursday, April 19, 2018

On Thursday, April 19th, the  Senate Commerce & Public Safety Committee  will hear SB1519:  protective orders; schools; appropriations. There is a  strike everything amendment to SB1519 . NASWAZ encourages you to voice your concerns using the " Request to Speak System ," or by contacting the Senate Commerce & Public Safety Committee members directly.

NASWAZ has communicated the following: We  support  funding for Mental Health First Aid; Behavioral Health Services in Schools including suicide prevention training; Safe Schools Hotline Program; and upgrading the Criminal Background Check Database system. 


NASWAZ  encourages  using the proposed $11 M to hire school social workers and school counselors instead of being dedicated solely to School Resource Officers. 


NASWAZ is  concerned  that the Severe Threat Orders of Protection (STOP) fails to meet the need at hand without further stigmatizing the individual who would be the subject of the STOP order.


This bill  fails  to address: 1) closing the loopholes in the background database used when individuals purchase a firearm; 2) raising the age of purchasing a firearm; 3) banning the purchase of semiautomatic firearms with a large magazine of ammunition designed and configured for rapid fire and combat use; and 4) prohibiting the sale of “bump stocks.”


Email the Senate Commerce & Public Safety Committee members directly:

Sen. Steve Smith (District 11)   ssmith@azleg.gov

Sen. Warren Petersen (District 12)  wpetersen@azleg.gov

Sen. Sonny Borrelli (District 5)  sborrelli@azleg.gov 

Sen. David Farnsworth (District 16)  dfarnsworth@azleg.gov 

Sen.  Bob Worsley (District 25)  bworsley@azleg.gov 

Sen.  Sean Bowie (District 18)  sbowie@azleg.gov 

Sen.  Robert Meza (District 30)  rmeza@azleg.gov 

Sen.  Catherine Miranda (District 27)  cmiranda@azleg.gov   

NASWAZ Sends Letter to Leadership RE: SB1519 

On April 13, 2018,  NASWAZ  sent a letter to the Governor and Senate leadershipre regarding  SB1519:  protective orders, schools; appropriations.  Click here   to view the Chapters stance on the legislative involvement in increasing school safety in Arizona.

School social workers work to prevent all forms of school violence, including mass killing, in schools as well as guide schools in recovery after a crisis has occurred. Today more than ever, there is a growing need for school social workers to help prevent school violence and to support students in moments of crisis. Click  HERE   for NASW Practice Resources, NASW Press releases, and information community organizations advocating for school safety.

NASWAZ Sends Governor, Legislature Letter re: Gun Violence Solutions

The National Association of Social Workers Arizona Chapter (NASWAZ) is very concerned about the gun violence that has tragically impacted our communities. We join with concerned citizens and groups to promote legislation that assures safety and security in our state and in our schools. We offer the recommendations below for your consideration. We wish to promote reasonable, effective, and sensible responses to curb gun violence.

Keep Children in Foster Care Safe!

Keep Children in Foster Care Safe! Tell lawmakers to VOTE NO on HB 2535 (DCS; prohibited acts; firearms)

You can also sign into the Request to Speak (RTS) system to OPPOSE HB 2535.  

Weigh in for or against bills from your computer

The Request to Speak System (RTS) allows people to weigh in on bills as they go through the legislative process. You can make your voice heard from home or anywhere you have a computer. You do need to register at the Capitol via computers in the House and Senate lobby. You can also request that Protecting Arizona's Family Coalition (PAFCO) register you via this link

SUPPORT SB 1246 (behavioral health board)

We want to alert you to SB 1246 (behavioral health board) which promotes portability of licensing from another state to Arizona.

The bill provides that if a licensed social worker meets the licensing requirements of another state or federal jurisdiction and they have been licensed (with no disciplinary action for the last three years), then the social worker can apply for a license in Arizona at the same practice level.  Note that the level of licensure and requirements of the originating state must be substantially equivalent to the licensure level in Arizona.  This bill makes it easier for social workers to move into Arizona to work and serve our state's most vulnerable. We're asking our members to SUPPORT SB 1246Read the bill (as introduced) here.

Legislative Alert

Oppose HB 2406 -  Elimination of Licensing for Social Workers

HB 2406 (behavioral health board; regulation; repeal) proposes elimination of the Board of Behavioral Health Examiners (BBHE) and licensing for behavioral health professional – including social workers. As you know, the BBHE is charged with oversight and licensure of Social Workers, Counselors, Marriage & Family Therapists, and Substance Abuse Technicians, Licensed Associate Substance Counselors and Independent Substance Abuse Counselors.

NASW Arizona opposes any move to deregulate professional social work practice. This would have an adverse impact on the safety of our community and our profession.

Licensing is a necessary element to work with clients in government and private settings to protect the public. Without licensing there are challenges to reimbursement for services from government and insurance sources.

Read House Bill 2406 -  HB2406 As Introduced

So far, the bill has been assigned to the House Health Committee, but is not scheduled for a hearing date.

The Chapter expressed our concerns with HB 2406 to the House Speaker and the Chair of the House Health Committee. We have also communicated with other behavioral health associations, the Association for Social Work Boards, and many of our NASW members.

UPDATE This bill will likely not be heard in committee. Thank you all for your advocacy and communicating the importance of licensure to your elected officials!

(LINK: This is a helpful resource developed by the Association of Social Work Boards that speaks to why we have regulatory boards, priorities around protecting the public, etc).