President Donald Trump’s signing last week of an executive order banning certain travelers from entering the United States has generated a lot of discussion about immigration. What hasn’t been so widely addressed, however, is the health impact that immigration status can have on a person, particularly a child. That important topic was the subject of a statement released by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) shortly after the executive order was announced.
In the statement, the group reaffirmed its commitment to the health of all children, regardless of their—or their parents’—immigration status. Per the AAP statement, immigrant children “deserve to be cared for treated with compassion, and celebrated. Most of all, they deserve to be healthy and safe.” For this reason, the statement further asserts:
The Executive Orders signed [January 25, 2017] are harmful to immigrant children and families throughout our country. Many of the children who will be most affected are the victims of unspeakable violence and have been exposed to trauma. Children do not immigrate, they flee. They are coming to the U.S. seeking safe haven in our country and they need our compassion and assistance.
You can read the full text of the AAP statement here.
It is well known that the immigration status of parents can have consequences for children’s health. Research has shown that children of foreign-born parents are more likely to have difficulty accessing health care and are more likely to be uninsured. Refugee children are also at increased risk of mental health disorders, often as a result of having witnessed the atrocities of war or due to the death of one or more parents.