The American Public Health Association (APHA) is predicting a public health crisis ahead due to the Trump administration’s policy of separating parents and children at the U.S.-Mexico border.
The group issued a statement spelling out the immediate and long-term health consequences that children living without their parents are liable to experience.
“Risks include the acute mental trauma of separation, the loss of critical health information that only parents would know about their children’s health status, and in the case of breastfeeding children, the significant loss of maternal child bonding essential for normal development,” according to the APHA.
"More alarming is the interruption of these children’s chance at achieving a stable childhood. Decades of public health research have shown that family structure, stability and environment are key social determinants of a child’s and a community’s health.
"Furthermore, this practice places children at heightened risk of experiencing adverse childhood events and trauma, which research has definitively linked to poorer long-term health. Negative outcomes associated with adverse childhood events include some of society’s most intractable health issues: alcoholism, substance misuse, depression, suicide, poor physical health and obesity.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the “zero tolerance” border policy that has resulted in the separation of parents from their children is due to “lawlessness,” and that if Congress passes legislation to build a wall on the Mexican border, “we won’t face these terrible choices.”
President Trump has blamed Democrats for the policy, telling one reporter; “The Democrats have to change their law. That’s their law.”
The APHA is not buying it.
"There is no law requiring the separation of parents and children at the border. This policy violates fundamental human rights. We urge the administration to immediately stop the practice of separating immigrant children and parents and ensure those who have been separated are rapidly reunited, to ensure the health and well-being of these children.”