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Immigration Law

Migrant Kids Behind Bars a 'Moral Disaster' - AP Report

Garance Burke and Martha Mendoza, Associated Press, Dec. 19, 2018 - "Decades after the U.S. stopped institutionalizing kids because large and crowded orphanages were causing lasting trauma, it is happening again. The federal government has placed most of the 14,300 migrant toddlers, children and teens in its care in detention centers and residential facilities packed with hundreds, or thousands, of children.

As the year draws to a close, some 5,400 detained migrant children in the U.S. are sleeping in shelters with more than 1,000 other children. Some 9,800 are in facilities with 100-plus total kids, according to confidential government data obtained and cross-checked by The Associated Press.

... Experts say the deep anxiety and distrust children suffer when they’re institutionalized away from loved ones can cause long-lasting mental and physical health problems. It’s dangerous for all but worse for younger children, those who stay more than a few days and those who are in larger facilities with less personal care.

“This is not a perplexing scientific puzzle. This is a moral disaster,” said Dr. Jack Shonkoff, who heads Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child. “There has to be some way to communicate, in unequivocal terms, that we are inflicting punishments on innocent children that will have lifelong consequences. No matter how a person feels about immigration policy, very few people hate children — and yet we are passively allowing bad things to happen to them.”"