Family separation - even for short periods of time - is distressing, traumatic and damaging to the health and well-being of children and parents. Longer periods of separation will lead to sustained and heightened distress and “toxic stress” that will have physiological effects on a child’s neuroendocrine and immune systems, stress regulatory system, and brain development with long-term implications for their health and well-being.
The vetting process that the administration is using to reunite parents with their children is wholly inappropriate. The process, established by the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (TVPRA), requires background checks of sponsors, in-person checks of where the child would live, and a full screening of people who live in that home. The judge in the ACLU lawsuit has ruled that while the government should be mindful of the best interest of each child it releases, it does not have to follow every single step of the process established by TVPRA as it was designed for screening non-parental sponsors of unaccompanied children to assure that potential placements are safe and appropriate. This process was not intended to assess placement of children who entered the U.S. together with their parents.