Bullying immigrant children in the name of politics

We’ve all seen the news and heard the stories about children being separated from their parents as they cross over the U.S. border. The pictures of human beings, including very young children, behind wire mesh (some argue that they are not really cages) is simply horrifying. Over the past decades, we have seen atrocities happening in many other countries around the world. And we sit and wonder why the citizens of those countries did not do anything to stop it, why no one spoke out. Yet, here in the U.S., children are being torn away from the arms of their parents and it is currently happening while our elected leaders battle it out in rhetoric.

Some people, our president included, believe the forced separation of children from their parents serves as a deterrent to people immigrating to the U.S. They neglect the harm this causes these children and ignore the squalor these people are being detained in. True, these people may be entering the U.S. illegally. However, U.S. law permits immigrants to come to the U.S. to petition for asylum. Additionally, immigrants who are already on U.S. soil have a right to remain in the U.S. pending their court cases. Detaining them in cages and tearing children apart from parents is nowhere mentioned under any of these laws. Rather than stepping up and reforming immigration law and border-crossing operations, the best our lawmakers can come up with is to abuse little kids as a means of discouraging people from entering the U.S.

As a doctor, I feel it imperative that the medical community speak out on this atrocity. Kids forcibly separated from their parents and held in prison-like conditions are indeed harmed. They are subject to psychological and mental stress and the foundation for mental health disorders, including PTSD, is being laid down. Medical studies report the evidence of the harm that happens to children when separated from their parents, especially their mothers, at very young ages. News reports are showing toddlers and infants being taken away from their mothers. These are very critical ages for normal child development. This harm, no matter how long or how brief, is going to cause psychological trauma that will last for a lifetime. Every school has an anti-bullying agenda in place because we know the harms that result from it. Yet, here is the U.S. bullying immigrant children in a horrendous fashion.

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