Letter to the editor: Family separation is bad policy

A damaging and tragic health crisis is unfolding at the United States/Mexican border and in detention centers across the country, where thousands of  children remain separated from their parents, families, and loved ones. Research clearly shows that such separations can cause significant long-term damage to physical brain development, cognitive functioning, mental health, and the medical well-being of these children. The longer the separation lasts, the more severe and damaging the consequences.
The Vermont Psychological Association is appalled by the treatment of these children and their parents, and we object to the current administration’s practices in this regard.
Because Vermont is a border state, we have a particular interest in seeing this practice discontinued immediately, and we have very real concerns about this practice spreading to other borders, particularly since Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) recently stopped motorists to question their  citizenship in New Hampshire and Maine. Vermont may be next. We join thousands of other associations of mental health providers, organizations, and individuals in our concern.
President Trump signed an executive order on June 20, 2018, purporting to end the practice of separating children from their parents, but these families have not been reunited, and news reports of parents trying to find their  children are disturbing. VPA applauds ending the practice of separating children from families, but stopping the practice is not enough. We urge all Vermonters to appeal to our federal legislators and to the administration to immediately take steps to reunite these suffering families.
VPA understands the need for enforcement of the laws established in this  state and country but we must have laws and enforcement mechanisms that are just and respectful of human welfare, regardless of citizenship or nationality.
Gus Jordan, Ph.D.
President, Board of Directors
Vermont Psychological Association

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