In 2019, The U.S. Detained More Child Migrants Than Anywhere Else On Earth

Screengrab/FRONTLINE PBS | Official/YouTube


Under President Trump, the U.S. is detaining more migrant children for longer periods of time than ever before.

The United States detained more migrant children in 2019 than ever before and for longer periods of time, according to a joint report from The Associated Press and PBS Frontline — far outpacing any other country in the world.

The Week reported that the “Trump administration held a record 69,550 migrant children in U.S. government custody in fiscal 2019, up 42 percent from the previous year.”

Detaining children can lead to long-term trauma for children, both physical and emotional — a fact the government has acknowledged. The AP/Frontline investigation found that some “migrant children who were in government custody this year have already been deported,” while some “have reunited with family in the U.S., where they're trying to go to school and piece back together their lives.”

“About 4,000 are still in government custody, some in large, impersonal shelters,” the report said.

Dr. Jack Shonkoff of Harvard's Center on the Developing Child “warned Congress earlier this year that detaining kids away from their parents or primary caregivers rewires their brains,” The Week noted.

"Early experiences are literally built into our brains and bodies,” Shonkoff said, while the American Academy of Pediatrics warned in September that detained children "face almost universal traumatic histories."

From the time President Donald Trump took office, the Department of Health and Human Services went from caring for 2,700 migrant children to more than 13,000 in June. And rather than an average holding time of one month, as it was when Trump entered the White House, migrant children are now held for about double the time.

The federal government was ordered on November 5 to provide mental health treatment and screenings for migrant families in its care. The federal judged ruled that the Trump administration "caused severe mental trauma to parents and their children" and officials were "aware of the risks associated with family separation when they implemented it."

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