The Trump administration faced criticism as it was revealed that the number of separated children at immigration was higher than anticipated. The actual number of separated families on the Southern American border since 2017 is 5,500, on which the judge gave an order to the Trump administration to present an explanation for each case. The “zero policy” by Trump received massive criticism and condemnation; protests were held by human rights groups to keep the separated children under humane custody. According to many reports, instead of providing nurturing care to the children, they are kept in stressful detention conditions. These actions directly affect the child-parent relationship which is very important for the child to develop proper cognitive functions. We have compromised on the most important factor for human development in the face of adversity.
The “zero-tolerance” policy that was passed in 2018 by the Trump administration caused many families to be separated, which affected the children adversely, leaving behind psychological scars. Many psychologists suggest that the long separation between children and parents can lead to serious cases of depression and anxiety. The traumas endured at a younger age can leave behind irreversible neural changes. These children will have difficulty in learning and studying since their minds are always occupied. PTSD is one of the most common syndromes these children suffer from, even years after the ordeal has come to an end. According to Megan Gunnar:
“This would lead kids to have trouble with executive function tasks, working memory, inhibition control, and cognitive flexibility.”
Life within a shelter is not easy for adults, let alone children who are forced to live without their parents. Most of the children are so young that they need constant supervision and care but the staff at these centers is not ideally trained to provide the love and warmth that children require. According to the policies of the detention centers, the children are not allowed to be touched or held which means that these children will grow without any hint of warmth and affection. Many children are traumatized, depressed, and anxious. Hence, they resort to self-harm. The toxic stress puts the children’s mind into continuous fight or flight mode which can develop violent behaviors in the children. These children when grow up will never be able to be a normal part of the community. No matter what opinion one has about immigration, but no child deserves to live a life so empty and die alone in a shelter near the border.