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Immigration detention may impact children's mental health

Many families in Louisiana have had one or more of their members taken away by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials. Stories of aggressive arrests and children watching in horror from the sidelines as events transpire are rampant in neighborhoods, schools and communities where many immigrants live. Most advocates agree that immigration detention situations can have lasting, negative effects on children who witness them.

The term, "adverse childhood events" is often used to describe emotional or physical trauma that has long-term negative consequences on children. When ACE is included on a psychiatric assessment form, however, there is typically no mention of immigration arrests or other events related to possible removal situations. This may be why recent reports suggest immigrant children are less likely to experience ACE than children born in the United States.

Many say vague terminology on pediatric assessment forms may place children of immigrants at further risk because they are less likely to receive the help they need when their experiences are not documented. It is estimated that more than 18 million children in the United States live with at least one immigrant parent and over 2 million of them were born outside the U.S. Many say new administration policies make it reasonable to assume that even greater numbers of arrests and deportations may take place in the near future.

Immigration detention incidents may not only have emotional and mental consequences for children who witness ICE arrests. Serious legal challenges are often thrust upon families in such situations as well. An experienced immigration and naturalization law attorney can assist anyone in Louisiana facing problems related to the removal process; also, an attorney can provide resources for helping children overcome the emotional trauma related to a particular situation.

Source: pediatrics.aappublications.org, "Immigrant Latino Children and the Limits of Questionnaires in Capturing Adverse Childhood Events", Glenn Flores, Juan C. Salazar, Accessed on Oct. 10, 2017

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