Statement of APA President Regarding Executive Order Rescinding Immigrant Family Separation Policy

WASHINGTON — Following is the statement of APA President Jessica Henderson Daniel, PhD, in response to President Trump's signing an executive order ending the separation of immigrant children from their parents: 

“While we are gratified that President Trump has ended this troubling policy of wresting immigrant children from their parents, we remain gravely concerned about the fate of the more than 2,300 children who have already been separated and are in shelters. These children have been needlessly traumatized and must be reunited with their parents or other family members as quickly as possible to minimize any long-term harm to their mental and physical health. In the interim, they should be assessed for and receive any needed mental or physical health care by qualified health care professionals.

“Decades of psychological research show that children separated from their parents can suffer severe psychological distress, resulting in anxiety, loss of appetite, sleep disturbances, withdrawal, aggressive behavior and decline in educational achievement. The longer the parent and child are separated, the greater the child's symptoms of anxiety and depression become.

“The American Psychological Association stands ready to assist in getting these children the psychological care that they will need during the time they are in U.S. custody and upon their release.

“However, the executive order could create new challenges to the health and well-being of immigrant families by opening the door to holding children with their parents longer than is now permitted by law. The bottom line is we need to have immigration policies that are humane and in the best interests of children and families.”

The American Psychological Association, in Washington, D.C., is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States. APA's membership includes more than 115,700 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance the creation, communication and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve people's lives.