PRESS RELEASE: “Zero Tolerance” Policy: Separating children from their parents

The Suffolk County Medical Society represents over 2,500 physicians practicing medicine on Eastern Long Island, in the state of New York.

The current situation occurring at the southern border of the United States where persons are attempting to enter this country illegally with children, under the “Zero Tolerance” policy instituted recently by Presidential order, is unprecedented in scope. These children and families have overcome much adversity including conditions of unforgiving poverty, war and violence or other severe circumstances leading them to come to the US.

Although we recognize the need to assure safe borders, the automatic forced separation of children from their parents or other adult care givers, is unconscionable and must stop immediately. Such practices are highly likely to result in harm to the children and their parents or caregivers. The American Psychiatric Association has warned that such children are at high risk of developing depression, anxiety and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. In addition, they are at higher risk for long-term medical and mental health problems as a result of such forced separations from caregivers.

These children and families should be afforded due process and remain together while they seek asylum. We, the physicians of Suffolk County, Long Island, New York are making known to the public our opposition to this policy that forces separation of families. We are calling for the immediate cessation of this practice, with families being reunited at once.

Our government representatives should take this opportunity to form safe, just and enforceable immigration laws that provide security without instituting undue harm.

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