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The Issue

The Trump administration, as a result of Jeff Sessions' “zero-tolerance policy,” has engaged in the practice of separating children from their parents when they present themselves at the US-Mexican border.  Under the zero-tolerance policy, all adults in Department of Homeland Security custody, regardless of whether they are claiming asylum or have children, are being prosecuted via the Justice Department and sent to detention centers to await trial.  Since children cannot be prosecuted or held in detention for long periods of time, children are being forcibly removed from their parent’s custody.  Nearly 2,000 immigrant children were separated from parents during six weeks in April and May, according to the Department of Homeland Security.  While the Trump administration claims that current law and court decisions have caused this practice, there are no laws that mandate family separation.  These children are being recategorized as unaccompanied minors, placed in the care of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (an office under the Department of Health and Human Services), and cared for in shelters until a sponsor can be found.  While the administration claims they do not have a family separation policy, this has resulted in systematic removal of children from their parents. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) leadership with the help of the Immigrant Health Special Interest Group and the Department of Federal Affairs has been working diligently to oppose and denounce practices that are harmful to immigrant children.  As a healthcare provider, you too can join with the AAP to end these harmful practices. 

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