- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The American Medical Association, the largest medical society in the nation, issued a letter Wednesday to Trump administration officials condemning the policy of separating migrant children from their families caught illegally crossing the U.S. border.

The policy does “great harm to children and their parents or caregivers, who felt compelled to make a dangerous and uncertain journey because of safety concerns in their own countries,” the AMA wrote in a letter addressed to the heads of the three departments charged with enforcing the policy.

This includes Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

SEE ALSO: AMA letter on migrant children policy

Medical professionals have started speaking out over the past week of the mental and physical dangers associated with acute trauma as outrage grips Americans who have followed stories of children crying and pleading for family members while being removed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents.

President Trump says separating children from their parents is necessary to prosecute the adults for the crime of crossing into the U.S. illegally and can be stopped by closing loopholes in new immigration legislation that would tighten security and fund a border wall.

Yet critics denounce the move as political blackmail by the Trump administration.

An estimated 12,000 children are being held in U.S. detention facilities in places such as Florida and Texas, with a vast majority being unaccompanied minors, federal officials have said. Yet at least 2,000 children were taken from parents or guardians, with heartbreaking images and audio recordings of distressed toddlers crying for their parents or pleading with border patrol officers to call their families.

The American Medical Association is one of the largest and oldest consortium of medical professionals across 170 specialties in the U.S. The AMA establishes best practices, promotes new research and advocates against barriers to health care.

“Families seeking refuge in the U.S. already endure emotional and physical stress, which is only exacerbated when they are separated from one another,” the AMA letter continued. “It is well known that childhood trauma and adverse childhood experiences created by inhumane treatment often create negative health impacts that can last an individual’s entire lifespan.

“Therefore, the AMA believes strongly that, in the absence of immediate physical or emotional threats to the child’s well-being, migrating children should not be separated from their parents or caregivers.”

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