Dems, health groups demand immigrant children be quickly reunited with families

Dems, health groups demand immigrant children be quickly reunited with families
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Democrats and medical professionals on Thursday called for children separated from their families at the border to be immediately reunited to minimize any long-term harm to their mental and physical health.

“The executive order President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Freedom Caucus calls for Congress to work on shutdown through break Democrat previews Mueller questions for Trump’s AG nominee Trump inaugural committee spent ,000 on makeup for aides: report MORE signed yesterday does not resolve this crisis that he created,” said Democratic Whip Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerThis week: No signs of urgency as shutdown enters fourth week Overnight Energy: House votes to reopen Interior, EPA | Dems question EPA over Wheeler confirmation prep | Virginia Dem backs Green New Deal House votes to reopen Interior, EPA as shutdown fight wages on MORE (Md.) at a press conference with representatives of health groups. 

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“There are no plans to reunite children with their parents. They can’t even get the comfort of being told they’ll be together tomorrow, next week. Not even that comfort is offered by the president and this administration.”

Trump’s executive order mandates that families crossing the border be detained together, but does not address the 2,300 children who have already been separated from their families.

Those children can face significant harm to their mental and physical health if they aren’t reunited with their families soon, doctors warn.

“These children have been needlessly traumatized and must be reunited with their parents or other family members as quickly as possible,” said Arthur Evans, CEO of the American Psychological Association.

Research shows children and parents are in danger of experiencing toxic stress as a result of lengthy separations, Evans said, which can cause disrupt children’s brain development and lead to mental and physical health problems in the future.

Potential health problems include Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, substance use, aggressive behavior, decline in educational achievement, and even heart disease, diabetes and cancer later in life.

But the administration has not laid out a clear plan to reunite the families.

“It is still very early and we are awaiting further guidance on the matter,” said Brian Marriott, senior director of communications at the Administration for Children and Families, a division of the Health and Human Services Department.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerDemocrats are facing political consequences over shutdown The Supreme Court shouldn’t do the president’s dirty work to end DACA Scalise: Trump wants Congress to solve shutdown problem MORE (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiSenators restart shutdown talks — and quickly hit roadblocks On The Money: Shutdown hits Day 24 | Trump touts need for wall in speech to farmers | Poll numbers sag | House Dems push stopgap bills | How the shutdown could harm the economy | TSA absences raise stakes for deal Feehery: Current shutdown impasse is a fight over peanuts MORE (D-Calif.) urged Trump on Thursday to immediately reunite families that have been separated. 

"The administration has the authority and the resources to immediately begin the process of family reunification," they wrote in a letter to Trump. 

"Any delay in doing so is simply unacceptable." 

The longer children are separated from their families, the more severe some health problems may become, health experts warn. 

“We continue to worry about the health implications for the children and their families that are in custody,” said Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association.

“We believe it’s very important that they expedite additional resources right now to address those children that need services, and we demand the immediate reunification of these families.”