Print Edition - 2018-09-13 | Oped
Don’t Let Migrant Kids Rot
Sep 13, 2018-
For all the human brain’s mysteries, its development is quite well understood. Early childhood and adolescence are crucial times of unparalleled neural growth. Just as trust and stability can enhance that growth, fear and trauma can impede it. Institutionalization, in particular, can have profound and deleterious effects, triggering a range of developmental delays and psychiatric disorders from which recovery can be difficult, if not impossible. In light of that knowledge, the Trump administration’s latest move against immigrant children is especially troubling. On Thursday, the Department of Homeland Security proposed new regulations that would allow the government to detain migrant children indefinitely. Officials are now prohibited from detaining such minors for more than 20 days by an agreement known as the Flores settlement, which has been in place since 1997.
The new rules would end that settlement and would likely open the door to an expansion of detention centers across the country. D.H.S. says that by eliminating Flores, officials will deter illegal immigration, reasoning that undocumented adults will be less likely to enter the country to begin with if they know they can’t avoid long-term detention simply by having a child in tow. The administration bears unique responsibility for these violations, in no small part because its disastrous and short-lived separation policy has wreaked havoc on a system that was already rife with problems. Shame alone should have federal officials working hard to undo the damage of that policy and to prevent further harm to the children under their charge, never mind that it’s the right thing to do under any number of international agreements and norms. But their latest plan is more likely to exacerbate existing problems than to resolve them. So while the administration plays politics, the well-being of thousands of children who came to America seeking protection and safety will be put at risk—today and, developmentally, for the rest of their lives.
Published: 13-09-2018 07:56