"The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) opposes the Department of Homeland Security's new 'enforcement initiative' to deport parents, caregivers and sponsors who sent for their unaccompanied children. The initiative, reported today in the media, would target parents whose only crime is sending for their children to provide them with a better life in the United States. It is a cruel tactic meant to spread fear within immigrant communities, and it places vulnerable children in a position of unknowingly putting their parents at risk of deportation.
"It is difficult to imagine what it would be like to be a parent who lives in fear for their child's life, health and safety every day. For these parents, it is not a choice to bring a child to our country, it is a last resort effort to save his or her life. Fleeing violence, persecution and brutality, even if it involves sending the child alone on a dangerous journey, is not a choice.
"But we do have a choice. We can choose to provide these children with the opportunity to thrive here in our country, to rebuild a better life, a safe life, a more stable, hopeful life with their parents. Or we can choose to rip from them the only thing that's true, the adults in their lives who brought them here or are raising them as their own. The new deportation initiative underway by federal authorities makes clear the choice our federal government is making.
"The parents of unaccompanied children often have other children who are U.S. citizens, may have been living, working and contributing to the community for years, and may be forced to return to a dangerous environment far away from the very children they were trying to protect. To deport them puts all of their children at risk and is harsh and counterproductive. For children that have already experienced enormous adversity, parental deportation can also mean the added trauma of placement in foster care.
"As we prepare to celebrate all our country stands for over the Fourth of July holiday, we do so alongside immigrants who make our country what it is today. Unaccompanied children demonstrate remarkable resilience and are part of our communities, schools, and families; they help form the fabric of our country's future. Pediatricians call on the Department of Homeland Security to choose to do what's best for children and reverse this harmful policy."
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 66,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org and follow us on Twitter @AmerAcadPeds