With the issue of separation of children from their parents at the border dominating the news, I wanted to provide you with a brief update on the AAP’s activities as you respond to inquiries and requests for assistance. The issue of family separation at the United States border has been a top priority for the Academy since early 2017 when the policy was first rumored. Since the official policy that has led to the separation of families took effect in May, more than 2,300 children have been separated from their parents.
Since her Op Ed in the LA Times on May 3rd, AAP president, Dr. Colleen Kraft, has been an incredible voice for the AAP raising this issue to national prominence. She has already done more than two dozen interviews with major domestic and international media outlets with many more to come. As examples, here are a few clips: on camera interview CBS This Morning with Gayle King, another with MSNBC, another with NBC Nightly News, CNN, NPR and print coverage with Washington Post, NY Times, the Laura Bush op-ed (which cites AAP) and there are many others.
Our strategy is to use the unique voice of the AAP as experts in child health to describe the harm to these children that comes from being separated from their families. Pediatricians can describe the impact of separation and toxic stress and trauma on the developing brain and let the politics and larger immigration debate be handled in the press by others. This Washington Post article is an excellent encapsulation of AAP’s message. AAP News also describes the strategy and provides additional background.
At the same time, we are advocating strongly in DC for these children and have weighed in on various legislative proposals pending in Congress. AAP’s position can be accessed here and here. We have also been outspoken in our criticism in numerous letters to federal policy makers and press statements, most recently on June 15.
Chapters have been vital in our advocacy work on many issues of national importance over the past year and we know you and many of your members are eager to engage again on this important matter. Here’s how you and your members can help:
- Direct members to federaladvocacy.aap.org for information on how to make their voice heard by their Member of Congress. Members of Congress need to be hearing from their constituents who oppose the separation of children from their parents.
- Encourage members to write Op Eds and Letters to the Editor describing the harms to children’s health from being separated from their families and calling on the Administration to end the policy.
- Several AAP chapters including the Texas Pediatric Society, the Indiana Chapter of the AAP, and several others have put out statements of opposition to the separation of children and their parents at the U.S. border (THANK YOU). Please continue to share those and other chapter advocacy efforts with AAP advocacy staff and with your congressional delegations.
- To find out information about rallies or other events in your state or city, familiesbelongtogether.org has a searchable list by zip code. They also have an ongoing petition that individuals can sign.
- Physicians for Human Rights is circulating an individual sign-on opposing the separation of families which can be accessed here.
The AAP will remain fully focused on this issue until the Administration abandons this cruelty. Thanks to you for your leadership and engagement on this important issue. Please be in touch if we can be of assistance.
Kerry K. Sease, MD, MPH
Senior Medical Director | Pediatric Academics
Medical Director | Bradshaw Institute for Community Child Health & Advocacy
Greenville Health System