Mental impact on immigrant children

YUMA, Arizona – The immigration crisis has been one big boiling pot of political posturing nationally and emotional turbulence in border areas.

What might get overlooked is the psychological upheaval in the lives of youngsters who have been dragged across countries and shuffled around for weeks.

Thousands of Central Americans were caught coming into the U.S. illegally.

“I am fleeing from extortion and death threats”, said Kenia Pereira, a mother who was caught by border control.
Pereira explained that those threats were coming from a criminal gang known as MS-13 in her native country, Honduras.

After being caught by border agents, they were detained in Texas, flown to Yuma, bussed to El Centro and then housed in another detention center.

“After the flight they took us by bus here where we were held in a place that looked more or less like a prison,” said Karina Arevlao, another detained by border control. “Only without showers and toothbrushes.”

Are those are meaningful inconveniences? like the looming dangers her child will no doubt remember as they sneaked through Mexico to the U.S.

“In Mexico, this is what happens every day,” added Arevalo, ”They can kidnap you and ask a ransom of $2,000 per head or they kill you.”

Ashley Bruce Heart, a licensed psychologist, stressed the developmental impact that such stress can have on a child growing up.

“Well they’re going to be traumatized, well what the heck does that mean?” proposed Hart. “That basically means that you lose faith in humanity. You no longer look at the world as a safe place. You lose the ability to have an expectation to live in a world where there’s law and order and there’s rules governing the humanity.”

“The long-term impact is one where individuals can learn not to trust and in order to cope with that, either avoid society altogether or attempt to manipulate society by refusing to follow normal rules of civilization.”

 

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