by: Lee Savio Beers, MD, FAAP, President, American Academy of Pediatrics
"The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is a voice for all children – no matter where they or their parents were born. We applaud today’s announcements by the Biden administration as an important first step in repairing the damaging immigration policies of the past four years, but our work is far from over.
"Over and over again, pediatricians sounded the alarm when children were being forcibly separated from their parents at our border. We watched in horror as this practice was carried out and spoke out repeatedly about the devastating short- and long-term health harms caused by family separation. Children should never be separated from their parents unless a competent family court makes that determination. We must do everything to ensure families are reunited immediately and that all children and parents who have been separated receive needed medical and mental health care at no cost to them. AAP welcomes the creation of a Task Force to Reunify Families and urges the Task Force to seek the input of pediatric medical providers.
"We are heartened by the Biden administration’s commitment to restoring science and evidence-based policy. The same should apply to immigration policy especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. The damage caused to immigrant health with the onslaught of harmful policies from the past several years will not and cannot be reversed overnight. The public charge regulation that forced families to choose between accessing critical services or remaining together in our country has created a chilling effect that is going to take extensive work to address and it requires the attention of policymakers at all levels.
"We need leaders who will design policies that protect and promote the health, safety and dignity of aspiring Americans, asylees, and refugees and applaud the Biden administration for picking a pediatrician, Dr. Pritesh Gandhi, as chief medical officer of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). We also congratulate Alejandro Mayorkas, on his confirmation today as DHS Secretary.
"There is no time to wait for urgent solutions for immigrant children and families. The Academy is calling on our nation's leaders to continue to advance policies that support immigrant health and put an end to all policies that do the opposite."
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 67,000 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