Letters to the Editor

Family separation is torture

In a Tuesday, June 19, 2018 photo, Central American migrant families wait to be taken to the McAllen bus station from the Catholic Charities Humanitarian Respite Center, in McAllen, Texas. The families were processed and released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and then taken to the center, where they were provided with clean clothes, a shower and meal before embarking to their final destinations.
In a Tuesday, June 19, 2018 photo, Central American migrant families wait to be taken to the McAllen bus station from the Catholic Charities Humanitarian Respite Center, in McAllen, Texas. The families were processed and released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and then taken to the center, where they were provided with clean clothes, a shower and meal before embarking to their final destinations. AP

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently enacted a policy separating children from their parents at the border. In some cases, parents are deported but their children stay in custody indefinitely in the United States. Although the president halted separations of children from parents on June 20, there is no plan in place to reunite the more than 2,300 children separated from their families. Further, the June 20 resolution does not reverse Jeff Sessions’ “zero tolerance” policy (requiring all federal prosecutors to charge cases of misdemeanor illegal entry (8 USC 1325(b)) and could detain families indefinitely.

Family separation is a form of torture — research has clearly documented the lifelong psychological and neurological harm that parental separation and isolation can cause. The empirical evidence on child development overwhelmingly shows that this policy is tantamount to child abuse: https://sites.google.com/view/letter-to-secretary-nielsen/home

What can we do? First, we can call our senators and representatives to support the Keep Families Together bill (https://tinyurl.com/y7dsarr3 and H.R. 6135). Second, we can contact the DHS to insist that the more than 2300 child migrants be reunited with their families (Kristjen Nielsen, Secretary of Homeland Security, DHSSecretary@hq.dhs.gov). This is not a partisan issue. Just call as someone who cares about children.

Carrie Langner, on behalf of staff and faculty of the Cal Poly Psychology & Child Development Department

  Comments