By: Elisabet Medina
As humans we have four reactions to danger; we fight, we flee, we freeze, or we cling. When it comes to families that have migrated to the U.S. seeking a better a life; fighting would have resulted in a loss of life. How do you fight against transnational gangs? Do you protest your government when it means that you might be kidnapped and never heard from again?
At times, fleeing is the only option. Running for your life is more than a saying it is reality. For generations, parents have fled their home countries leaving behind children, parents, siblings, spouses to find relief and send for their loved ones one day.
Today, parents may also be suddenly deported leaving behind children in the U.S. who now have to bear the financial and psychological weight. Boys in particular feel the pressure to be the "man of the house" in the aftermath of a father's deportation. The separation; the feelings of abandonment, the missed birthdays, the days that bleed into years and wondering when you will see each other again? And if reunited; how to be a family again? Separation even in the best of circumstances when children are left with grandparents or other relatives still leaves its mark.
Only desperation would cause people to flee to a country that currently despises them. Now we are in a time, when children are forcibly removed from their parents who only want to protect their children and not leave them behind in unbearable circumstances.
Children in times of extreme stress have the same four options to react; fight, flight, freeze or cling. Except the children in immigration detention can neither, fight nor flee nor can they cling to the people who are supposed to help them feel safe; their parents.
This practice of separation is being justified by Department of Homeland Security officials because those attempting to cross the border have "broken the law" and "will be prosecuted". However, the only crime that warrants removal of a child from a parent is abuse be it- physical abuse, sexual abuse, or severe neglect. Attempting to cross a border should not be grounds for removing a child from their parents, and in doing this we cause immeasurable harm to children and families.
To find out more about the impact of detention and deportation on children and families, here are additional sources: