National nursing, medical associations decry immigrant family separation
The American Nurses Association and American Medical Association released statements Tuesday asking for President Donald Trump’s administration to end ongoing migrant family separation practices at the U.S. border as quickly as possible.
Both organizations said in their statements that forced separations will have “irreparable” negative effects on the physical and mental health of the separated children which could cause long-term health issues.
“On behalf of the physician and medical student members of the AMA, I am writing to strongly urge the federal government to withdraw its ‘zero tolerance’ policy that requires the separation of migrating children from their parents or caregivers.” – @CEO_AMA, Dr. James L. Madara. pic.twitter.com/sqf6tZTPpd
— AMA (@AmerMedicalAssn) June 20, 2018
“It is well known that childhood trauma and adverse childhood experiences created by inhumane treatment often creates negative health impacts that can last an individual’s entire lifespan,” Dr. James Madara, CEO and executive vice president of the AMA said in a written statement. “Therefore, the AMA believes strongly that, in the absence of immediate physical or emotional threats to the child’s well-being, migrating children should not be separated from their parents or caregivers.”
#ICYMI: The ANA urges everyone involved to protect the mental and physical health of these children who face an uncertain future without their families. #FamiliesBelongTogether #WhereAreTheChildren –@anapresident pic.twitter.com/gromaAn4CH
— Nurses Association (@ANANursingWorld) June 20, 2018
The ANA urged President Trump’s administration to end forced family separation, reunify the families without delay and establish “compassionate immigration policies.”
“The Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements (ANA, 2015) calls on all nurses to always act to preserve the human rights of vulnerable groups such as children, women and refugees,” the ANA statement reads. “The United States of America is better than this. We cannot continue with a policy that is so immoral and cruel to children and families.”
Why is this immigrant family separation happening?
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a zero-tolerance policy towards illegal immigration in April, which required the arrest of any immigrants attempting to illegally enter the U.S. by not using legal border crossing areas.
Before, adults who illegally crossed typically faced arrest—except for those who brought along children, as they could not be prosecuted. This undermined the integrity of the immigration system by providing “blanket immunity” for adults who should be legally prosecuted, Sessions said in an opinion piece on USA Today.
Since adopting the zero-tolerance policy, at least 2,300 children have been separated from their families as of June 9. Separated children are then sent to Customs and Border Protection facilities, and are later transferred to longer-term care shelters.
What’s recently spurned public outcry from human rights organizations and media groups are the three “tender age shelters,” which house many children ages five and under, established in South Texas, the Associated Press learned this week.
President Trump signed an executive order Wednesday to put a temporary end to future family separations, but is still pushing for more permanent zero-tolerance legislation.
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