“If it could happen to them…why can’t it happen to us?”…separating children from their parents

“My older daughter began having nightmares that “the people” would take her away from us and give her to another family. She was inconsolable. “If it could happen to them,” she asked with the cleareyed logic of a 7-year-old, “why can’t it happen to us?”.. (A)

“The Trump administration has set up at least three “tender age” shelters to lock up babies and other young children who have been forcibly separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, The Associated Press has learned…
The United Nations, some Democratic and Republican lawmakers and religious groups have sharply criticized the policy, calling it inhumane.
Not so, said Steven Wagner, an official with the Department of Health and Human Services.
“We have specialized facilities that are devoted to providing care to children with special needs and tender age children as we define as under 13 would fall into that category,” he said. “They’re not government facilities per se, and they have very well-trained clinicians, and those facilities meet state licensing standards for child welfare agencies, and they’re staffed by people who know how to deal with the needs — particularly of the younger children.”…
“The shelters aren’t the problem, it’s taking kids from their parents that’s the problem,” said Dr. Marsha Griffin, a South Texas pediatrician who has visited many.
“The facilities that they have for the most part are not licensed for tender age children,” said Michelle Brane, director of migrant rights at the Women’s Refugee Commission, who met with a 4-year-old girl in diapers in a warehouse in McAllen, Texas, where Border Patrol temporarily holds migrant families.
“There is no model for how you house tons of little children in cots institutionally in our country. We don’t do orphanages, our child welfare has recognized that is an inappropriate setting for little children.” (B)

“The American Medical Association urged the Donald Trump administration to stop its “zero tolerance’ policy that is separating migrating children from their “parents or caregivers.”
The nation’s largest doctor group said the Trump administration needs to end the policy and should instead focus on supporting “the health and well-being of the children within those families.”
“Families seeking refuge in the U.S. already endure emotional and physical stress, which is only exacerbated when they are separated from one another,” AMA executive vice president and CEO Dr. James Madara said in a letter to U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar.
“It is well known that childhood trauma and adverse childhood experiences created by inhumane treatment often create negative health impacts that can last an individual’s entire lifespan,” AMA’s Madara said. “Therefore, the AMA believes strongly that, in the absence of immediate physical or emotional threats to the child’s well-being, migrating children should not be separated from their parents or caregivers.”” (C)

“The United Nations Children’s Fund warned of the dangers faced by children who are separated from their parents at the border.
“There is a documented impact of being detained. There is fear and anxiety, and we must not forget that these are children first,” Caryl Stern, CEO of UNICEF USA said in a previous statement. “Parents and caregivers are a steady force in these children’s lives, so when they are effectively ripped from the arms of their protector, of course that is extremely worrisome.”
Stern points to the additional health effects related to releasing these minors to sponsors who may not be suitable caregivers — and the risk of releasing minors into the custody of human traffickers. The Department of Health and Human Services documented the issue and the need for protections of unaccompanied refugee minors in report to the U.S. Senate.
In addition, there are something called ‘push’ factors that have caused migrants to flee their home countries. Ashley Ham Pong, an Associate Attorney at Montagut & Sobral in Washington DC, has worked with detained children for more than three years and now works with both accompanied and unaccompanied children.
“In many cases these migrants are fleeing immense risks in their home countries — for instance gang violence in Central America — is a major push factor which we know affects children’s health,” Ham Pong told ABC News…” (D)

“The Trump administration’s policy of separating migrant children from their parents has alarmed child psychologists and experts who study human development…
Institutions — even the best and most humane — by their nature warp the attachments children long for, the visceral and concentrated exchange of love, tough and otherwise, that comforts, supports and shapes a child’s heart and mind.
In orphanages and other institutional settings, “turnover rate of caregivers is high, as is the number of children per caregiver,” Marinus van IJzendoorn, a professor of human development at Erasmus University Rotterdam, said in an email.
“This causes impersonal, unstable and fragmented care, which not only impacts on attachment or stress regulation but also on physical growth parameters such as height, weight and head circumference, and brain development.”…
“So many of these parents are fleeing for their lives,” Dr. Colleen Kraft, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, wrote in a public statement after a recent trip to the border. “So many of these children know no other adult than the parent who brought them here.”” (E)

‘On Wednesday, the public pressure from both Democrats and Republicans — and private entreaties from his own family — seemed to have finally worked on the president. Trump announced he will sign an executive order to address the issue, though he didn’t elaborate on how families detained at the border would be kept together or how detentions would be handled going forward.
“We’re going to keep families together but we still have to maintain toughness or our country will be overrun by people, by crime, by all of the things that we don’t stand for and that we don’t want,” Trump said.” (F)

“As with so many Trump decisions, this one has been a moment-by-moment proposition, driven by, and reactive to, the media.”
“Sources who’ve been in the room with Trump tell me he realizes the overwhelming weight of the imagery of the children means he can’t just ride this out as he might have originally thought he could. Anybody saying Trump thinks the family separation issue is a political winner hasn’t been talking to him.” (G)

(A) ‘If It Could Happen to Them, Why Can’t It Happen to Us?’, by Jeanine Cummins, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/19/opinion/children-border-separated-foster-care-trauma.html
(B) At least 3 shelters set up for child migrants, https://apnews.com/
(C) AMA To Trump: End ‘Inhumane’ Child Separation Border Policy, by Bruce Japsen, https://www.forbes.com/sites/brucejapsen/2018/06/20/ama-to-trump-end-inhumane-child-separation-border-policy/#21a92e5c60cf
(D) What to know about the negative health effects of separating kids and parents, by AMITHA KALAICHANDRAN, https://abcnews.go.com/Health/negative-health-effects-separating-kids-parents/story?id=55974081
(E) A Troubling Prognosis for Migrant Children in Detention: ‘The Earlier They’re Out, the Better’, by Benedict Carey, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/18/health/migrant-children-mental-health.html
(F) Melania Trump Pressured President Trump To Change Family Separation Policy, by Jessica Taylor, https://www.npr.org/2018/06/20/621930721/melania-trump-pressured-president-trump-to-change-family-separation-policy
(G) Axios PM: Trump to end child separation crisis he created; June 20, 2018

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