Framing Mental Health Within the Immigration Debate

The American Psychological Association is urging congress to keep in mind the mental health needs of children when addressing current and future immigration policy. In a hearing earlier this week, Carola Suárez-Orozco, Ph.D. shared with lawmakers the APA’s recommendation of enforcing laws humanely. Previous studies found direct correlation between depression and anxiety levels in adolescents and the length of time they had been separated from one or both of their parents. Children whose parents had been detained in immigration authority raids showed marked changes in behavior, including anger, withdrawal, fear of authority, frequent crying, anxiety, and altered eating and sleeping patterns.

© Copyright 2010 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • AD


    July 23rd, 2010 at 6:29 PM

    This is a vey tricky topic and no mater wat the decision ther are bound to be criticizers.While it is humane to be considerate in such cases it also opens the doors for exploitation of the laws by certain people who could take advantage of such laws.

  • Darren


    July 24th, 2010 at 1:54 AM

    ^^ Ur right but then there are not too many cases like that and so instead of having a uniform law for it they could deal with such things on a case to case basis and then give reprieve for deserving cases…

  • Sasha


    July 24th, 2010 at 10:56 AM

    It’s no wonder the children would be scared. A little compassion for them in amidst all the formality of the immigration process would go a long way.

  • Andrew


    July 24th, 2010 at 11:59 AM

    Their parents should have thought of that before they broke the law! I have no sympathy for any of the family.

  • bess


    July 24th, 2010 at 2:36 PM

    don’t mean to sound too callous but maybe these parents should have thought these things through before trying to come in to the country illegally. If they are all that concerned with their kids health, and supposedly they are, why not try to do things the right way and enter the country legally? That way they show that they are all about getting the help that they profess that they need but they are also teaching their kids about the value of honesty and playing the game the right way

  • Elena


    July 24th, 2010 at 2:36 PM

    What is humanity? What is legal? The problem ‘apathetic children to asylum seekers’ was widely discussed in Swedish media in 2004-2005. It was an epidemic of sick children and medical problems become political ones.In spite of protests from humanitarian organizations some families with sick children were deported.

  • Mike A

    Mike A

    July 25th, 2010 at 5:35 AM

    I come from a family of immigrants and it makes me beyond mad for those of you who are here with little sympathy for these children. Yes what the parents may be doing is wrong but don’t blame the childeren. They did not ask for this and do not deserve to be left ebhind to deal with these issues that were in no way brought on by themselves. Are we not to help those who cannot help themselves? If that is not what we are about anymore then i dare say that I am ashamed of so many of us.

  • Atherton


    July 25th, 2010 at 11:12 AM

    We should never mix being humane with politics.Children are innocent and they do not know any borders,any immigration.Its their parents that are responsible for the situation and also policies of various governments.

  • Elena


    July 25th, 2010 at 12:46 PM

    Absolutely agree with you Atherton! But it’s a reality – immigrants cost money for the country that accept them.

    I’m by the way an immigrant myself, only I didn’t escape from any war. I’m on the side of those who were forced to leave their countries attempting to get descent life somewhere else.

  • Eric Smith

    Eric Smith

    July 25th, 2010 at 2:09 PM

    Of course immigration can also be a stressful issue and requires a lot of thought, I know first hand-

  • Paris


    July 25th, 2010 at 10:38 PM

    Kids are kids, regardless of what country they or their parents originate from. No one in their right mind wants to see them grow up anxious and fearful of their shadows because they witnessed laws being enforced. Think of the little ones when you’re looking at the big picture please.

  • Sandy


    July 26th, 2010 at 4:14 AM

    No matter what the parents do that are wrong the kids have no control over that and need to be elft out of the issue. that is the only civilized thing to do- put them somewhere where they are safe and when the parents are returned home allow the kids to go with them too.

  • Bob


    July 26th, 2010 at 6:57 PM

    Not deporting those here illegally as it impacts their children negatively is kind of like saying that we should no longer arrest criminals because of the impact it has on their children. I hate to sound callous but I don’t think we should selectively enforce laws based on the impact it will have on the perpetrators children.

  • James


    July 27th, 2010 at 4:26 AM

    Maybe the immigrants should go back home and take their kids with them if there is no satisfaction with the care that they are given here! if they would work legally and pay taxes they could reap the benefits that the rest of us who work hard every day do. But until that time they need to stop their whining.

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