The Cultural and Economic Diversity Committee was created in 1991 to support the organization's growing commitment to diversifying its membership and to dealing with the many-layered issues that arise in supporting multicultural work. The committee's current mission statement reflects those objectives: "The function of the Cultural and Economic Diversity committee, in alignment with AFTA's mission, is to ensure AFTA's accountability in maintaining economic and cultural diversity and upholding its agenda of social justice." To this end, the committee has a responsibility to insure that all activities, including the annual conference and other committee work and projects, take into account issues of multiculturalism, particularly concerning the experience of marginalized groups as well as the effects of privilege. It creates and facilitates a forum at each conference relevant to these topics and is responsible for a facilitated learning circle where people can voice their experience in AFTA. Anyone may join the committee who is interested in furthering the development of AFTA's commitment to social justice as it impacts the theory and practice of family therapy and the organization's own accountability.
Download The History of the Cultural and Economic Diversity Committee 1990-2009 here
Immigrants play a vital role in U.S. society. Their participation in all aspects of communal life is critical to the vibrancy of our communities and our country. This statement from the American Family Therapy Academy supports the rights of immigrants and opposes the targeting and erosion of these rights. We speak out now due to our growing concern with U.S. policies towards immigrants. This statement cannot offer a comprehensive critique of U.S. immigration policy. However, it is based on our conviction that U.S. immigration law, specifically the oppressive immigration policies of 1996-7, has steadily become more restrictive and harmful to families, separating partners from each other as well as parents from their children. Lack of access to healthcare, employment, and education has resulted in disastrous consequences for children and their parents. With the post September 11, 2001 passing of the Patriot Act, seriously eroding the fourth amendment of the Bill of Rights against illegal search and seizure, the "war on terrorism " became a war on immigrants.
Immigrants are now denied the right to counsel, asylum seekers and other immigrants are subject to mandatory detention and deportation without judicial review, and immigrants with minor criminal records face deportation. Entire families have been confined for extended periods of time and unaccompanied minors are housed in adult jails, often restrained, shackled, subject to strip searches, in solitary confinement, and separated from family members and systems of support. Children can be placed in foster care, rather than with family. Often detained families and children are denied healthcare, translators, sanitary living conditions, and adequate supplies of clothing and basic toiletries. Families are left destitute and grieving when their family members, who are usually the breadwinners, are detained. The women or partners left behind may not speak English or understand the system for seeking what limited help there might be for themselves and their children.
An array of federal regulations now permits actions that do not comply with the fourth amendment requirement of probable cause. For instance, homes can be entered without having to comply with the constitutional requirement to give prior notice to the residents. Actions consistent with racial profiling are now commonplace. The attorney general has also authorized federal agents to infiltrate churches, synagogues, mosques and other social gatherings of U.S. citizens to detect any sign of potential terrorist activity, introducing a pervasive fear in immigrants who are aware of the danger to their own and their families' safety and liberty in this present climate.
U.S. immigration policy makes it easy for employers to exploit immigrant workers, denies adequate healthcare, separates and impoverishes families, makes women vulnerable to sexual abuse, limits access to employment for all and access to education for young people, and excludes immigrant voices from decisions that affect their lives. Immigrants are particularly vulnerable to discrimination based on race, ethnicity, national origin, gender and sexuality.
Therefore it is the position of the American Family Therapy Academy that:
As AFTA members who value the importance of the family, we shall:
Note: This position statement borrows freely from the Citizenship Project, The National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, The National Association of Social Workers, The National Immigration Project, The Center for Constitutional Rights, The Florida Immigration Advocacy Center, and individuals who have been involved with AFTA, either as outside speakers or as AFTA members.