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Position Statement: Children Should Never Be Held In Detention

Position Statement: Children Should Never Be Held in Detention
[Photo provided by Custom and Border Protection to reporter on tour of detention facility in McAllen, Texas.]

Migrant Clinicians Network stands firmly against the Trump Administration’s shocking decision to dissolve the Flores Settlement, paving the way to detain children for indefinite periods of time.

“It is never appropriate to detain children,” said Karen Mountain, MBA, MSN, RN, Chief Executive Officer of MCN. “Even limited exposure to detention is detrimental to the health and well-being of children -- and to do so, with full understanding of the health consequences and when other options including community placement are available, is unacceptable.”

“These policies are reinforcing a cruel inhumane approach to immigration that violates human rights,” added Amy Liebman, MPA, Director of Environmental and Occupational Health. “This is yet another example of the Trump Administration’s disregard of children’s health in the name of deterrence -- a strategy which is proven to not work.”

Most of the children held in detention are fleeing violence and unimaginable situations in their home countries that threaten their health. After a long and often dangerous migration, frequently on foot and across the entire country of Mexico, the children and their families cross in the US seeking asylum, which they are nationally and internationally recognized to be in their legal right to do. Detention for asylum-seeking children adds an unnecessary and unacceptable additional layer of trauma, wherein children are exposed to unsanitary conditions, live in fear, and lack resources for supporting their basic health needs. Instead, as a nation founded on principles of fairness and morality, we call on the Administration to provide family support, trauma-informed care, and community integration for all asylum-seeking families that cross our borders.

MCN further calls on the Trump Administration to immediately cease any and all migrant detention of children for the sake of their health and well-being.



MCN has repeatedly written statements and articles on the health consequences of detention for children. Here are a selection:

MCN Statement: Detention Facilities are Inappropriate for Children
From the Border: Refugees and Their Health Needs
Detention for Families: Why It's Dangerous for Children, and How Clinicians Can Help
Children at the Border: Layers of Trauma Compounded By Detention
Out of the Detention Center, and Into the Exam Room: What Clinicians Need to Know
Post-Migration Trauma and Evaluating Children in Texas Immigration Facilities: Q&A with Dr. Luis Zayas

Access resources to better serve refugees:
CDC: Guidelines for Pre-Departure and Post-Arrival Medical Screening and Treatment of US-Bound Refugees
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network: Refugee Trauma
American Academy of Pediatrics: Immigrant Child Health Toolkit
MCN’s 2018 webinar, Treating Global Health At Your Doorstep Starts with a Good Patient History



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