“A Lifetime Sentence of Poorer Health”: PHI Statement on Federal Family Separation Practice
STATEMENT FROM MARY A. PITTMAN, CEO AND PRESIDENT, PUBLIC HEALTH INSTITUTE
The Public Health Institute joins hundreds of organizations, and hundreds of thousands of American citizens, in decrying the federal administration’s recently introduced decision to wrench children away from their immigrating parents at the U.S. southern border.
“It is cruel, traumatizing, may have lifelong health impacts, and is against everything we stand for as an organization—and everything we should stand for as a country. Refugee families come to our borders because they are fleeing life-threatening situations; to compound that tragedy is unethical and immoral.
“PHI’s work focuses on the conditions that contribute to health, including Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), which are clearly and directly connected to early brain development and poorer health impacts across the lifespan. Children who are subjected to more ACEs—including separation from parents and neglect—are at a higher risk of health issues including cancer, substance abuse, mental health and behavioral issues and heart disease as adults.
“Each of the thousands of children being detained in these prison-like camps is, in effect, being sentenced to a lifetime of poorer health—a sentence they have not asked for and certainly do not deserve. And every day that this policy continues makes it more dire.
“Children belong with their families. Families belong together. PHI supports strong and immediate action that keeps immigrating families together, re-unites those that have been torn apart and treats immigrants with the dignity, respect and care that every member of our society merits. It should be a simple decision.”