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The Trump administration has been separating children from their parents to discourage families from seeking asylum in the United States. News reports indicate that more than 2,000 children have been taken from parents at our borders since early May.

Most of these families are seeking asylum, which is their legal right.

Although the administration recently said they are ending the border separation practice, children and families are still being held illegally, parents are continuing to be deported, and children have been and are continuing to be traumatized.

We have decades of research demonstrating the incredible impact of childhood trauma on people well into adulthood. The National Child Traumatic Stress Network suggests that children may develop post traumatic responses from experiences during displacement from their countries of origin, including from refugee camps, detention, and separation from their parents.

In the words of more than 11,000 of our nation’s mental health professionals, "To pretend that separated children do not grow up with the shrapnel of this traumatic experience embedded in their minds is to disregard everything we know about child development, the brain, and trauma."

Welcoming immigrants has long been a source of strength for our country. Asylum-seekers deserve compassion, dignity and respect. America values children and families. The callous treatment of refugee parents and children must end.

Joelle Gallagher

Executive Director, First 5 Napa County

Member, Napa County Child Abuse Prevention Council

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