Napolitano Slams Trump Administration’s Family Separation Policy for Inflicting Trauma, Cites Opposition from Mental Health Organizations
(WASHINGTON, DC) Today, Rep. Grace F. Napolitano (D-El Monte) issued the following statement on the Trump administration’s continued trauma-inflicting policy of forcibly separating immigrant children from their parents at the border:
“Separating children from their parents is inhumane, indefensible, and is a form of emotional violence. The reports and images from detention facilities have rightly appalled and horrified the American public, which overwhelmingly opposes the Trump administration’s continuation of its family separation policy. Despite repeated lies by President Trump and others within his administration, no existing law is causing this to occur. There is no justification for this cruelty, and it must end now.
“Leading mental health and children’s health organizations have registered their opposition to separating children from their families, and their assessments should not be taken lightly. These organizations do not claim to be experts in immigration policy, but they do know what is harmful to children and families.
“The National Association of School Psychology states:
The current practice of separating children from their parents at the border is the intentional infliction of trauma as a deterrent to attempting to enter the United States. This is a form of emotional violence. Such trauma can have life-long consequences with respect to children’s mental and behavioral health and their academic success. Many of these children may have already experienced trauma, which puts them at even greater risk of adverse outcomes when wrenched from their most important sense of security and stability—their parents.
The American Psychological Association states:
The administration’s policy of separating children from their families as they attempt to cross into the United States without documentation is not only needless and cruel, it threatens the mental and physical health of both the children and their caregivers. Psychological research shows that immigrants experience unique stressors related to the conditions that led them to flee their home countries in the first place. The longer that children and parents are separated, the greater the reported symptoms of anxiety and depression for the children. Negative outcomes for children include psychological distress, academic difficulties and disruptions in their development.
The American Psychiatric Association states:
Children depend on their parents for safety and support. Any forced separation is highly stressful for children and can cause life-long trauma, as well as an increased risk of other mental illnesses, such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The evidence is clear that this level of trauma also results in serious medical and health consequences for these children and their caregivers.
The American Academy of Pediatrics states:
Separating children from their parents contradicts everything we stand for as pediatricians – protecting and promoting children’s health. We know that family separation causes irreparable harm to children. This type of highly stressful experience can disrupt the building of children's brain architecture. Prolonged exposure to serious stress – known as toxic stress – can lead to life-long health consequences.
“Our nation has a moral responsibility not to endanger the physical or mental health of children in government care or jeopardize their emotional development. We call on President Trump and his Department of Homeland Security to end family separation immediately, and instead use a humane approach that upholds the rule of law, while ensuring that future actions do not inflict further harm on already traumatized parents and children.”
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