McAllen, Texas (June 27, 2018) – Today, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) President Colleen Kraft, MD, MBA, FAAP, and President and CEO of UNICEF USA Caryl Stern are in McAllen, Texas, for a joint visit to the U.S. southern border. On the heels of yesterday's federal court decision ordering the federal government to reunite children who have been separated from their parents, our organizations join together supporting the decision as an important step for the vulnerable families who have been torn apart and left without a plan for reunification.
Following last week's executive order that sought to end the Administration's harmful policy of family separation, we remained deeply concerned about the more than 2,300 children who had already been separated from their families.
Yesterday's order states that all children must be reunited with their parents within 30 days and children under five within 14 days.
"Families should remain together. Separating children from their parents causes irreparable harm to their health, both in the short- and long-term. This abhorrent practice has already hurt many immigrant children. Since last week's executive order, there has not been a clear path outlined to reunify these children who may be hundreds of miles away from their parents. These families deserve clarity and compassion. As pediatricians, we know children fare best under the direct care of parents who love them, in a community setting – not a detention center," said Colleen Kraft, MD, MBA, FAAP, president of the AAP.
"We are thankful that the courts are putting children first and recognizing the very real need to reunite them with their families as soon as possible," said Caryl Stern, president and CEO of UNICEF USA. "Children are children, regardless of their borders or status – we need to continue to work together to prevent family separations in the future and ensure that all children are kept safe and healthy throughout this process."
Going forward, our organizations stand ready to assist in reunifying families and supporting their needs. Pediatricians across the country are prepared to provide care for immigrant children as they enter our communities.
Alternatives to detention for children and families do exist – as stated in AAP policy, a detention facility is no place for a child. We further call on the government to appoint an independent medical monitoring council to ensure that these children receive optimal medical and mental health care while in government custody.
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About UNICEF USA
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) works in more than 190 countries and territories to put children first. UNICEF has helped save more children's lives than any other humanitarian organization, by providing health care and immunizations, safe water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more. UNICEF USA supports UNICEF's work through fundraising, advocacy and education in the United States. Together, we are working toward the day when no children die from preventable causes and every child has a safe and healthy childhood. For more information, visit www.unicefusa.org
About the American Academy of Pediatrics
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 66,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit aap.org and Twitter @AmerAcadPeds.
For more information, contact:
Erica Vogel, UNICEF USA, firstname.lastname@example.org, 212-922-2480