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FEATURING KATHRYN HAMPTON – The Trump Administration’s practice of separating undocumented children from their parents caught crossing the border gained steam over the weekend. Several Father’s Day demonstrations took place, most notably outside a detention center in McAllen, Texas where children are being held. Members of the press were given brief access to the center from which have emerged disturbing photos and videos of children inside chain-link cages, with floor mattresses and foil blankets.

Donald Trump has continued lying to the American public about the justification for family separation, claiming falsely that a law passed by Democrats has forced him to institute the practice. First Lady Melania Trump also participated in the charade, issuing a statement over the weekend claiming she “hates” seeing children locked up and calling on “both sides” to resolve the problem.

But it was Attorney General Jeff Sessions had last month announced the US’s official policy of separating parents from their children stating point blank, “If you don’t want your child separated, then don’t bring them across the border illegally.” And Gen. John Kelly, White House Chief of Staff had said last year when he headed Homeland Security that ripping children from parents would be a good deterrent for undocumented immigration.

Current DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen tried to add nuance to the practice saying that people seeking asylum and arriving at the official check points where asylum applications are processed would not be prosecuted and would therefore not be separated from their children. But the migrants and refugees arriving are often unaware of the distinction, or of the official entry points for asylees.

The issue has exploded into the national consciousness over the past week, prompting even some Republicans to express disgust at Trump’s practice. Former First Lady Laura Bush published an op-ed invoking the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, and the United Nations has also condemned the US.

Meanwhile doctors across the nation are warning of the severe psychological impact of family separation on both children and parents. The American Psychological Association wrote Trump an open letter and the group Physicians for Human Rights collected more than 14,000 signatories to a letter opposing family separation.

Kathryn Hampton, coordinates Physicians for Human Rights’ Asylum Network Program, an initiative which recruits, trains, and supports a network of clinicians to provide forensic evaluations for asylum seekers and to advocate for human rights-based immigration policies.

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