I have been a mental health nurse for 25 years. I am also a certified elementary school teacher as well as a mother and grandmother. I know, without a doubt that kind, loving care for our children is natural and necessary for their healthy development.
I’m sickened and appalled and I object to the treatment that refugee children are receiving at our borders while in U.S. Customs and Border Protection custody. My heart breaks every time I hear or read about the conditions in these “concentration camps.” Children in cages separated from their families, in unhygienic conditions sanctioned with no soap. Children are lying naked or with full diapers all alone for hours and days on end! According to a July 9 article in the NYT: “But a review of the operations of the Clint station, near El Paso’s eastern edge, shows that the agency’s leadership knew for months that some children had no beds to sleep on, no way to clean themselves and sometimes went hungry. Its own agents had raised the alarm, and found themselves having to accommodate even more new arrivals.”
I am a mandated reporter. If I went into a home as a mental health nurse and found these conditions were present, I would be mandated to call Child Protective Services and report this deplorable level of abuse and neglect immediately! The psychological toll of this level of trauma being inflicted on these children is horrendous.
I call on all mandated reporters and all people with a conscience! Make the call now! Do something … we must stop this cruelty, reunite the children with their families and act like the caring, humane, intelligent people we know we are! Here are a few ideas suggested by Clara Long, the acting deputy Washington director at Human Rights Watch; and Elora Mukherjee, clinical professor of law and director of the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic at Columbia Law School: 1.) Contact your local representatives and demand that they direct immigration agencies to make release of asylum seekers, rather than detention, the norm; 2.) Congress should ensure that appropriately trained and licensed professionals are making child welfare decisions — not border agents; 3.) continue to rally, protest, write letters, hold vigils, make phone calls and write emails until all children and families receive the professional, humane, and compassionate treatment they deserve after fleeing horrors to get here.
Jo Shuman, RN