The president of the American Academy of Pediatrics on Monday said President Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy separating families at the U.S.-Mexico border “amounts to child abuse.”
“I can’t describe to you the room I was in with the toddlers,” Kraft said. “Normally toddlers are rambunctious and running around. We had one child just screaming and crying, and the others were really silent. And this is not normal activity or brain development with these children.”
Kraft stated that Trump’s policy amounts to “government-sanctioned child abuse” when asked by CNN host Kate Bolduan, saying that the U.S. government is taking away the one constant in these children’s lives. “ (A)
“…the Trump administration’s policy (is) to forcibly remove children from parents caught trying to enter the U.S. illegally as they are seeking asylum from violence, presumably to deter people from entering the country illegally.
Their children, including babies and toddlers, are then labeled “unaccompanied alien children” (a phrase never intended to be applied to children who could not yet walk) and placed in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR)…
Many of these families are fleeing trauma and violence in their home countries, only to be faced with the new trauma we have inflicted through forcible separation. The impact of these traumas on young children and their developing brains is real. Trauma is different from the typical stressors children experience in their normal daily life; those are the healthy stresses from which children learn and grow.
This trauma, the trauma of being forcibly separated from a parent by strangers and then transported to other strangers for prolonged periods of time, is different. This kind of trauma overwhelms the body. It causes feelings of terror and helplessness. Stress hormones flood the body.
Without the nurturance and calming support of a caring adult who is known to the child, these traumas can alter the structure of the developing brain. Long term, we know that this toxic level of stress can affect other organ systems, leading to long term adverse health outcome such as mental illness, substance abuse, cardiovascular disease, and premature death…” (B)
“Pamela Florian is an attorney at the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project, a nonprofit that provides free legal services to immigrants who have been detained in Arizona
“Our social-services program trains us to understand biological and brain development. We really focus on trauma-informed interviewing, so we don’t traumatize the children any more than they are. We talk about stress reactions, and how to work specifically with different age groups. We also get ethics training for working with kids, and we take into consideration cultural differences. If the child is younger, we see that he or she may speak a different language, and we try to figure out what it is so that we can call an interpreter. There are children who speak indigenous languages, so we can’t assume that everyone speaks Spanish.” (C)
“A report from the New York Times over the weekend highlighted another layer of the situation: the fact that some immigrant parents are being deported without being able to recover their children first. They try to cross the border, are separated, and then are sent back to their home countries without their children.
The Times highlights the story of Elsa Johana Ortiz Enriquez, a Guatemalan woman who tried to enter the country with her 8-year-old son, Anthony. The 25-year-old Ortiz was sent back to Guatemala, but her son is still in the US. Immigration officials say this isn’t supposed to happen, but apparently, it does. And then parents only have two options, per the Times:
They can have a family member who is living in the United States take sponsorship and custody of the child, or the child can be flown home and delivered into the custody of the authorities in the parent’s home country — and from there to the parent.
Parents are given a hotline to try to find their kids.” (D)
“The Trump administration has created a policy that is abusive to children and intentional in its cruelty. It is using this assault on a defenseless population as leverage against parents seeking to enter the U.S. without documentation. More than 1,500 boys are being held in a detention center in Texas. Other children have been placed into foster care while their parents are incarcerated hundreds of miles away.
Being wrenched from parents is every child’s worst nightmare. In addition to being traumatized by a forced separation, these children are at risk for further abuse and exploitation as the government ward system is imperfect in protecting children. This policy inflicts psychological injury on children, and its malicious intent may lessen the provision of compassionate treatment by those holding these children.
What is even more disturbing to me is that these family separations are occurring in full public view, as if they are done with honor or pride instead of with shame. Such brazen and unflinching cruelty against a highly vulnerable group — immigrant children — suggests that any group could be a target for unjust and cruel treatment by our government.” (E)
(A) American Academy of Pediatrics president: Trump family separation policy is ‘child abuse’, by JUSTIN WISE, http://thehill.com/latino/392790-american-academy-of-pediatrics-president-trumps-family-separation-policy-is-child
(B) Toxic effects of stress on children separated from parents, by DEBORAH GROSS, ELLEN OLSHANSKY AND SARAH OERTHER, http://thehill.com/opinion/immigration/392724-toxic-effects-of-stress-on-children-separated-from-parents
(C) An Immigration Attorney on What It’s Like to Represent Small Children Taken from Their Parents, by Alexandra Schwartz, https://www.newyorker.com/news/as-told-to/an-immigration-attorney-on-what-its-like-to-represent-small-children-taken-from-their-parents
(D) The past 72 hours in outrage over Trump’s immigrant family separation policy, explained, by Emily Stewart, https://www.vox.com/2018/6/18/17475292/family-separation-border-immigration-policy-trump
(E) Separating families at the border isn’t just bad policy — it’s horrible for children’s health, by OSCAR J. BENAVIDEZ, https://www.statnews.com/2018/06/19/separating-families-border-children-health/?utm_source=STAT+Newsletters&utm_campaign=641b1008a8-Daily_Recap&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8cab1d7961-641b1008a8-149527969