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ACP Objects to Separation of Children from their Parents at Border

Statement attributable to:
Ana María López, MD, MPH, FACP
President, American College of Physicians

Washington, DC (May 31, 2018)—The American College of Physicians strongly objects to the Department of Homeland Security’s “zero tolerance” policy that requires that all unlawful border crossers be referred to the Department of Justice for prosecution as a misdemeanor of illegal entry, including parents seeking asylum from persecution who enter the U.S. with their children. Their children will be treated as if they were “unaccompanied minors,” separated from their parents and sent into facilities administered by the federal government.

In a 2017 position statement on U.S. immigration policy, ACP expressed our concern about immigration policies that would split up families. While ACP policy recognizes the right of the U.S. to control who enters its borders, a policy of universally separating children from their parents entering U.S. borders will do great harm to children, their parents, and their families.

Childhood trauma and adverse childhood experiences create negative health impacts that will last an individual’s entire lifespan. Separating a child from his or her parents triggers a level of stress consistent with trauma. Families seeking refuge in the U.S. already endure emotional and physical stress, and separating family members from each other only serves to dramatically exacerbate that stress.

The American College of Physicians calls on the Department of Homeland Security, Attorney General Sessions, and President Trump to withdraw its new policy to require separation of children from their parents, and instead, give priority to supporting families and protecting the health and well-being of the children within those families.

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About the American College of Physicians

The American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization in the United States with members in more than 145 countries worldwide. ACP membership includes 152,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists, and medical students. Internal medicine physicians are specialists who apply scientific knowledge and clinical expertise to the diagnosis, treatment, and compassionate care of adults across the spectrum from health to complex illness. Follow ACP on Twitter and Facebook.