Immigration order poses grave risk to children

President Trump’s executive order to temporarily restrict immigration and bar refugees from entering the U.S stands to have a vast, detrimental impact on millions of children domestically and across the globe.

Children’s Rights adamantly opposes the immigration order and the limits placed upon refugees entering the U.S. in search of asylum.

The decision puts our most vulnerable, innocent children at risk, including girls who have been victims of or at risk for sexual violence, kids suffering with significant medical needs, and children separated from their families.

As a result of the order, immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries will be severely restricted. No refugees will be allowed to enter the country for 120 days, and all Syrian refugees will be barred indefinitely.

Globally, about half of the world’s refugees are children, according to a Child Trends report. The U.S. resettlement program is the largest in the world. In the last four months of 2016, 6,341 refugee children under the age of 14 arrived in the U.S. from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, and Somalia.

For refugee children with severe but treatable conditions, waiting 120 days can be a death sentence. As the Washington Post reports, refugees who need immediate medical attention are now being barred from entering the country, including a 9-year-old Somali child in Ethiopia with a congenital heart disease that cannot be treated in a refugee camp, and a 1-year-old Sudanese boy with cancer.

The decision also poses harm to kids in America. Currently, 1 in 4 children in the U.S. lives in a household with one or more immigrant parents. The latest executive actions have placed an enormous stress on these children, some of whom may find themselves in foster care. Families are left waiting in horror, wondering whether they, or their family members, might get deported or separated if traveling abroad.

“Many of the children who will be most affected are the victims of unspeakable violence and have been exposed to trauma,” said Fernando Stein, M.D., F.A.A.P., president of the American Academy of Pediatric, in Forbes. “Far too many children in this country already live in constant fear that their parents will be taken into custody or deported … fear and stress, particularly prolonged exposure to serious stress–known as toxic stress–can harm the developing brain and negatively impact short- and long-term health.”