Children Harmed by Unannounced Raids; No Notice to Systems That Help Kids Left Behind

Posted August 10, 2019
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Children Harmed by Unannounced Raids

Author­i­ties said they detained more than 600 alleged­ly undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grants in raids in sev­er­al cities in Mis­sis­sip­pi this week. In some instances, chil­dren returned from school with no one to care for them or were not picked up from child care cen­ters. Mis­sis­sip­pi Child Pro­tec­tive Ser­vices said it was not noti­fied of the oper­a­tions in advance. Below is a state­ment from Lisa Hamil­ton, pres­i­dent and CEO of the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion, a nation­al phil­an­thropy focused on children’s well-being.

We must put the well-being of chil­dren at the cen­ter of poli­cies and actions in this coun­try. Our chil­dren are our future, and they trust us as adults to make car­ing for them our high­est pri­or­i­ty. That’s why it is excep­tion­al­ly dispir­it­ing that immi­gra­tion enforce­ment oper­a­tions sep­a­rat­ing chil­dren from their work­ing par­ents in Mis­sis­sip­pi this week neglect­ed the well-being of those chil­dren and their families.

The sit­u­a­tion was made worse by the fail­ure of fed­er­al Immi­gra­tion and Cus­toms Enforce­ment (ICE) offi­cials to pro­vide advance notice to the agen­cies respon­si­ble for the safe­ty and secu­ri­ty of kids who sud­den­ly lacked access to their par­ents. We know that keep­ing fam­i­lies togeth­er leads to the best out­comes for chil­dren. We also know that the work under­tak­en by pub­lic sys­tems in the states, includ­ing Mis­sis­sip­pi, to pro­tect all chil­dren who are sep­a­rat­ed from their fam­i­lies for any rea­son is dif­fi­cult, even under ordi­nary cir­cum­stances. These already over­bur­dened sys­tems need the infor­ma­tion and resources to do the best they can by these chil­dren in such trau­mat­ic and chal­leng­ing situations.

Chil­dren who under­go sud­den sep­a­ra­tions from their par­ents process these expe­ri­ences as trau­mat­ic injuries that can have long-term con­se­quences for their health. All chil­dren are inno­cent and blame­less, and it is essen­tial that we treat them with exact­ly the same amount of com­pas­sion and sen­si­tiv­i­ty we would want for our own chil­dren if some­thing hap­pened to us.

The Casey Foun­da­tion envi­sions a brighter future for all chil­dren — includ­ing chil­dren in immi­grant fam­i­lies — and pro­motes racial and eth­nic equi­ty. We sup­port, and will con­tin­ue to sup­port, orga­ni­za­tions engaged in ensur­ing the well-being of immi­grant families.

Our 2017 Race for Results report under­scored the risks faced by kids, fam­i­lies and all of us as a nation if we fail to pro­vide chil­dren in immi­grant fam­i­lies with the sta­bil­i­ty, sup­port and oppor­tu­ni­ties that will enable them to thrive. In that report, we made three rec­om­men­da­tions toward ensur­ing these chil­dren can suc­ceed. First, keep fam­i­lies togeth­er and in their com­mu­ni­ties to ensure sta­bil­i­ty; sec­ond, help chil­dren in immi­grant fam­i­lies meet key devel­op­men­tal mile­stones by address­ing edu­ca­tion­al and oth­er needs; and third, increase oppor­tu­ni­ty for immi­grant families.

This week’s raids were only the lat­est event that has brought real harm to immi­grant fam­i­lies and fear to the youngest and most vul­ner­a­ble among us. We can do bet­ter, and we must do bet­ter. This is not a moment to be silent. The Casey Foun­da­tion calls on our elect­ed offi­cials to act in the best inter­est of all chil­dren. We urge lead­ers to invest in kids and use their voic­es to insist that the pro­tec­tion of all chil­dren be our high­est pri­or­i­ty. And we encour­age every­one to raise their voic­es to say that this nation must treat chil­dren, our most pre­cious resource, with decen­cy, human­i­ty and compassion.”

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