Statement on Family Separation Immigration Policy
Vibrant Emotional Health condemns the separation of more than 2,000 immigrant children from their parents that has occurred by order of the Federal government, and demands immediate reunification of these children with their families. Ample research in the area of adverse childhood events demonstrates that forced separation of children from their parents causes immediate psychological harm to children.
This trauma is likely to have long-lasting health and behavioral health effects on both parents and children the longer the separation continues, particularly if appropriate supports are not put into place. Parents, too, are subject to incalculable suffering as they endure the terror of not being able to protect their children, not knowing their whereabouts, and not knowing when – if ever – they will be reunited.
While the recently issued executive order is ending the official policy of forcibly separating children from their parents, there is currently no executive or legislative action that ensures families will be reunited. In addition, the current policy states that families will be subject to “indefinite detention” as they await legal processing. Indefinite detention will also have a dramatically negative impact on the mental and emotional well-being of these families. These are families fleeing to the United States to escape traumas already incurred in their home countries, including armed conflict, criminal victimization, domestic violence, and other extremely dangerous circumstances.
It is imperative that children currently separated be returned to their parents’ care immediately and resources be leveraged to provide swift processing of legal cases in order to decrease the risk of long-standing psychological injury to these families. It’s important that resources should be leveraged to provide any needed healthcare and mental health services and supports to children and families in order to promote their emotional well-being and resilience, and reduce the long-term impact of trauma, while they await final determination of their cases.
Reunifying these families and providing them with needed psychosocial and human services is not merely a matter of sound public health practice, or even of decency, although it is both of those things. It is a matter of ensuring the preservation of their human rights, without which no person can thrive.
On June 30, New Yorkers will join together with dozens of other cities in a National Day of Action to Fight for Families belong together. Click here to find a rally near you.