Immigration Confusion, Trauma Continues at Southern Border

Immigrant detention facilities in Texas continued to deny Congressional Democrats and other politicians access over the weekend as protesters rallied nationwide. Photo Credit:

Roz Brown
Public News Service

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The immigration crisis at the southern border continued over the weekend, with politicians angry over being denied access to holding facilities. The government has released a fact sheet for how it plans to reunite the thousands of families separated, but the Trump administration admitted it won’t happen quickly.

Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller traveled with a bipartisan delegation of mayors to the port of entry in Tornillo, Texas, last week. He said the group was denied access to holding facilitates, and he’s alarmed by the lack of details for reunification.

“And that process is a life-changing tragedy for those kids and those parents that they may never overcome,” Keller said.

In recent days, protesters have taken to the streets in New Mexico, Texas, California and other states. Mental health experts have said the trauma of childhood separation is compounded by the violence many children already have witnessed in their home countries.

Last week, President Donald Trump signed an executive order ending family separations.

Trauma expert Kirk Ward with Denver’s Mount Saint Vincent mental health services said he expects many of the infants and children taken from their parents under the “zero tolerance” policy will suffer developmental problems.

“And if they can’t reunite with the caretaker, that will actually begin to alter how the brain views relationships and closeness with others, the more traumatic it will become,” Ward said.

Since the Trump administration announced plans to prosecute all immigrants caught along the southwest border with illegally entering the country, more than 2,300 children have been separated from their parent or guardian. Keller said the U.S. has entered “dark days” when mayors from across the country have to tell the federal government their policies on immigration are wrong.

“Because when you actually humanize what they are they trying to de-humanize, everyone thinks this is wrong,” Keller said. “I have never seen anyone watch any of the videos that are out or seen any of those pictures and say, ‘That’s an America that I think is doing the right thing.'”

The government says around 500 children have been reunited with their families. The Department of Health and Human Services has placed other children at about 100 shelters in 17 states. At the same time, the Pentagon is drawing up plans to house as many as 20,000 unaccompanied immigrant children on military bases.