It is in the very nature of children, especially young ones, to see parents as invincible, immortal and able to protect them from any danger. Children derive a sense of stability, permanence and well being from them as well. It is quite a shock when they learn that the center of their world can seismically shift at any moment tearing them from the protective grasp and watchful eyes of loving parents. This is what is and has happened as a result of the current immigration policy which seeks to punish immigrants (and asylum seekers). For adults can more readily adapt to change, can better handle what might traumatize a still developing mind and ego. Children are not so equipped. That is why it is important to look carefully at what the current policy of family separation is having on the most vulnerable members of any society.
- Physical as well as emotional harm: It’s easy for even those who support family separation to accept that such a policy is not good for small children psychologically. However, what many people don’t realize is that family separation can take a long term toll on the health of a child. Adverse Childhood Experiences – (ACEs) as they are called – can lead to survivors suffering from anxiety and depression throughout adulthood.
- Can cause a form of PTSD: Studies conducted during the Second World War, (Pesonen & Räikkönen, 2012; Rusby & Tasker, 2009; Mitrani, Santisteban, & Muir, 2004), suggest that since children have less powerful coping mechanisms than adults, they can suffer from their own form of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) long after the triggering events is over.
- Removes a child’s emotional buffer from life’s traumas: Parents serve as a way to buffer and in a sense absorb some of life’s stresses that children are not able to handle. Removing this from a child in his/her formative years can lead to mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, and behavior problems. None of us should be deprived from our primary support system.
In short, in many ways the damage has already been done by the “zero tolerance” separation policy. However, that does not mean that we should resign ourselves to accepting the current situation as it stands. We must fight to protect immigrants and asylum seekers. We must do so for ourselves and our children and because we are better than this. My firm fights for Immigration rights in Los Angeles for them and for society as a whole. As an immigration attorney in Van Nuys, I fight for families who have been wrenched apart and housed in (ICE)-run detention centers as their welcome to this land.