US govt knew detaining migrant children was traumatic, in spite of that they still held 70,000 children in 2019, says report

Pregnant women and kids have been left to suffer in unfavorable conditions at the border as the official procedure gets dragged on.


                            US govt knew detaining migrant children was traumatic, in spite of that they still held 70,000 children in 2019, says report

New data from the US administration show that 69,550 migrant children have been held in government custody over the past year and they include infants, toddlers and teens. United Nations researchers have said that no other country has detained so many children away from their parents, according to the Associated Press which reported the same. The worst part is that this has happened with the children despite the administration conceding that holding kids in detention can prove to be traumatic for them and affect them both physically and emotionally. 

The detention of migrant kids at the border has earned the Donald Trump administration a major backlash. Pregnant women and kids have been left to suffer in unfavorable conditions at the border as the official procedure gets dragged on, many a time to compel the aspirants to return to their own countries. According to the AP report, some of the migrant children who found themselves in government custody this year have been deported while some are lucky enough to get reunited with their families in the US. About 4,000 people are still in government custody, including in big, impersonal shelters are more of them continue to arrive. 

Last month, it was learned from the American Civil Liberties Union that 1,500 more children were separated from their parents at the Mexico border in the early days of the Trump administration and that brought the total number of children separated since July 2017 to over 5,400, the AP reported. 

The AP’s report is part of a joint investigation going on between the news agency and the PBS series FRONTLINE on the treatment of migrant kids that includes the film “Kids Caught in the Crackdown” premiering on PBS and online on Tuesday, November 12, at 10 pm EST. 

Other top democracies have detained far less number of migrant children

The number of migrant children held in government custody this year has gone up by 42 percent compared to last fiscal and their stay away from their near ones has also increased, thanks to the authorities’ strict immigration regulations. If compared to some other countries that detained migrant children, while Australia detained 2,000 of them in 2013, Canada detained only 155 of them in 2018. In 2017, the UK detained only 42, the AP cited their official sources as confirming.

“Early experiences are literally built into our brains and bodies,” Dr Jack Shonkoff, director of Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child, said. He told the Congress earlier this year that “decades of peer-reviewed research” showed how much damaging is detaining kids away from parents or primary caregivers is for their health.

“Stable and responsive relationships promote healthy brain architecture. If these relationships are disrupted, young children are hit by the double whammy of a brain that is deprived of the positive stimulation it needs, and assaulted by a stress response that disrupts its developing circuitry,” he added.

'Unaccompanied Alien Children'

The US government has named the migrant children without their parents as “Unaccompanied Alien Children” or UAC, a bureaucratic one. Under the federal laws, the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of Refugee Resettlement needs to provide these children with food and shelter besides health care, including mental. But in reality, it has been officially found that there are not enough doctors or specialized care in shelters to keep migrant children.

The HHS department still patted the refugee resettlement office’s back saying it manages the huge number of migrant children against all challenges but the government cannot hide the fact that many families are suing it for millions of dollars for causing harm to their children by keeping them in detention. On November 5, a federal judge even ordered the government to provide mental health treatments to families hurt by separations from their near ones with immediate effect.

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