Reporting from ProPublica has revealed that separated children are suffering from mental disorders and have even contemplated suicide as a result of their plight. The issue sheds light on the burgeoning consequences of family separation around the country, with migrant children on Long Island also affected.
A 12-year-old boy — who was separated from his father and held at an Illinois shelter for almost four months — had become depressed to the point that he was admitted to a psychiatric hospital for one week and was diagnosed with adjustment disorder, according to confidential records obtained by ProPublica.
Since he was placed in Heartland’s care in May, Erick has been put on at least three medications to control his depression, aggression and emotional outbursts, has had trouble sleeping and has fought with other children and staff, according to the documents.
And, as previously reported, the conditions have even driven young migrants to contemplate suicide.
In June, an 11-year-old boy from Guatemala, housed at a Heartland shelter in suburban Des Plaines, cried inconsolably and said, “I want to die here,” the records show. Employees there told him “he needs to live to see his family.”
Amid these reports, the Trump administration is pressing to change regulations that would allow for the indefinite detention of children and babies. Ever since U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions declared in April, a “zero-tolerance” policy for immigrants crossing the border, children and their families have been torn apart as an abhorrent “deterrent” to immigration.
Here on Long Island, there have been six children that remain separated from their families at MercyFirst, a Catholic foster care agency with a federal contract to shelter the children. As of Newsday’s reporting on August 27, they remain separated, but the organization’s president and CEO, Gerard McCaffery, said that the children have been in regular contact with their families.
“[They] are holding up,” McCaffery told Newsday, but “like any kids, they have their moments when it can be very upsetting…it is tough… The younger you are, the more difficult it is.”