Videos

Child Refugees and Trauma

September 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – Immigration policy represents one of the most divisive political issues in the United States right now. U.S. immigration policies have passionate supporters and ardent opponents, but those who study child health and welfare say that a growing number of child immigrants are caught in the middle—children who may suffer from trauma as a result of the immigration process.

Sixteen-year-old “Ana” and her younger sister live each day in limbo. “Ana” and her parents are unauthorized immigrants, separately fleeing Guatemala then reuniting in this country. “Ana’s” sister was born here and is a U.S. citizen.

“She was like, ‘Is our family going to get separated now?’ I did not know what to say to her basically, because what do you say to an eight year old who asks you that?”

A new study finds that there are an estimated 37,500 children who were granted refugee status last year. Also in 2016, an estimated 90,000 more undocumented minors arrived without formal refugee status. Many were sent to detention facilities.

David Murphey, PhD, a senior fellow at Child Trends, told Ivanhoe that those detention facilities “Are really not set up at all to be child-friendly.”

Murphey is director of the Child Trends Databank, which tracks and monitors issues that impact children. Family separation, economic worries, and concern about increased violence against immigrants may lead to toxic conditions for kids.

“Interfering with their health, sleep problems, anxiety, depression,” explained Murphey.

Murphey said parents can support their children and help alleviate stress by maintaining routines and keeping an open dialogue with them. While this family waits on their status, “Ana” continues to work hard at school and set an example.

“Ana” detailed, “It’s really important for me to stay and make my parents proud and make them know that they came here for the right reasons.”

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, or ICE, shut down the family case management program, which housed about 630 refugee families while they awaited their asylum request. This means children are experiencing harsher conditions in adult detention centers.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising and Field Producer; Milvionne Chery, Assistant Producer; Roque Correa, Editor and Videographer.

Produced by Child Trends News Service in partnership with Ivanhoe Broadcast News and funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation. 


Spanish Translation

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Es uno de los temas políticos más divisivos hoy en día. Las políticas de inmigración tienen defensores apasionados y oponentes ardientes, pero los que estudian la salud y en bienestar infantil dicen que hay un número creciente de niños inmigrantes atrapados en un limbo, niños que pudiesen sufrir traumas por este proceso migratorio.

“Ana” de 16 años de edad y su hermana menor viven en un limbo diario. “Ana” y sus padres, inmigrantes indocumentados, huyeron independientemente de Guatemala, posteriormente reuniéndose en este país. La hermana de Ana por nacer aquí es ciudadana americana. Un nuevo estudio señala que hay aproximadamente 37.500 niños a quienes se le otorgó permiso como refugiados el año pasado. También, en el 2016 aproximadamente 90.000 menores adicionales, sin acompañantes, llegaron sin este estatus. Muchos fueron llevados a centros de detención.

La separación familiar, preocupación económica y el incremento en actos violentos en contra de inmigrantes puede crear condiciones tóxicas para los niños. Esto puede interferir con su salud y causar problemas al dormir, ansiedad y depresión.
Los padres pueden apoyar a sus niños y ayudar a aliviar el estrés manteniendo rutinas y una línea de diálogo constante con ellos. Mientras que la familia de Ana espera por su estatus migratorio, Ana continúa trabajando en su escuela y dando un buen ejemplo.
La agencia de aduanas e inmigración, o ICE, recientemente cerro el programa para el manejo de casos familiares, el cual albergaba a 630 familias inmigrantes mientras esperaban por su asilo. Esto significa que los niños están experimentando condiciones más difíciles en centros de detención de adultos.

Los contribuyentes a este reportaje incluyen: Cyndy McGrath, Supervisora y Productora de Campo; Milvionne Chery, Productora Assistente; Roque Correa, Editor y Camarografo.

Producido por Child Trends News Service en asocio con Ivanhoe Broadcast News y auspiciado por una beca de la National Science Foundation.