Around the month of March 2017, I learned about the new immigration policies under Trump’s administration that would separate immigrant families in American borders. I remember the anger and sadness I felt because I knew many of these families would never be the same again.
Family separation started to gain the public’s attention in the month of April 2017, however, family separation started as early as the month of Feb. 2017.
John Kelly, the secretary of Homeland Security, spoke to the public and assured American citizens that officials were only separating children if “their life was in danger”. A year later, in April 2018, Kelly announced a zero tolerance policy which would prosecute all illegal adult immigrants. This was devastating for many immigrant families because it meant that children could not be held in detention centers with their parents.
The zero tolerance policy marked the beginning of many displaced families. From the year 2017 up to now, approximately 2,300 children were separated from their families. Around 700 children remain separated from their families today.
Family separation alone is a big problem but within this problem exists many more. One of the main problems that comes with family separation is the effect that it has on the mental health of these victims. Studies by Jack P. Shonkoff, a professor at Harvard, has shown that children suffer from toxic stress as a result of not having a parent with them.
“Experience of toxic stress as a child may lead to poor educational achievement; adult disease; trouble with basic life skills and controlling emotions; addiction; and difficulties parenting,” said Shonkoff. “Excessive inflammation and metabolic responses to stress in childhood increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, depression, and other chronic illnesses in the adult years.”
Now that you know about the effects that family separation has on a child, think about how you feel. How would you feel if you were forcibly separated from your family? How would you feel if your sibling or child were put in a position to fend for themselves at a young age?
I just asked pretty uncomfortable questions, right? Well this is the reality of many separated families.
I believe it is important to have courage and compassion to fight this issue. It is our duty as American citizens to fight for what is right. We as Americans, hold the power to influence policy making decisions so why don’t we use our power to help?
Below are a few organizations that you can offer your support to:
Kids in Need of Defense (KIND): https://supportkind.org/
By donating you can contribute to the representation of unaccompanied immigrant and refugee children in their deportation proceedings.
NWDC Resistance/ Resistencia al NWDC: https://www.nwdcresistance.org/
This organization is led by undocumented immigrants. They focus on working to end the detention of immigrants and stop all deportations. You can donate to this organization to help them stop deportations.
Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP): https://www.nwirp.org/
This organization promotes justice by defending and advancing the rights of immigrants through direct legal services, systemic advocacy, and community education. You can donate or volunteer your time to this organization.
If you cannot donate it is okay. You can simply help by sharing these organizations with your friends and family or other people who may be able to donate.