Friday, June 22, 2018

Letter to my Senator

Dear Senator Barrasso,
Since you are a medical man, I would be interested in hearing your opinion about what the immigration policy of separating young children from their parents is doing to them psychologically. Do you ascribe to attachment theory, for example? Have you ever medically diagnosed PTSD in children? Are you familiar with the medical and psychological effects of trauma on young children? If so, what do you think is the likely outcome for these children? Is their outcome unimportant because they are not US citizens? Does the hippocratic oath only apply to US citizens? Or did you renounce your oath to "do no harm" when you became a senator? I look forward to your response. 
Sincerely, Amy Amy Kathleen Ryan

His response:

Dear Amy, 

Thank you for taking the time to contact me about immigration issues. It is good to hear from you.

I noted your concerns about the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) policy to separate children from their families after crossing the border illegally. When family groups are detained and adults are referred for prosecution, children accompanying these adults are separated while the case of the adult is determined.

Children are hosted in DHS facilities for no more than 72 hours before they are transferred to the care of the Department of Health and Human Services. The children are then put in the care of relatives, sponsors, or foster families. Families wishing to apply for asylum and cross the border at legal ports of entry are not separated when family ties can be confirmed.  

I understand the concerns of those who support keeping family groups together. We must do more to fix our immigration system so that the process for legal immigration works. Please know I will keep your concerns in mind as I continue my work in the Senate. 

Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts with me. I value your input.

John Barrasso, M.D. 
United States Senator

My response to Senator Barrasso:
Dear Senator Barrasso,

I wrote to you begging you to stop the horrific treatment of migrant children at our southern border, and you responded to say children are not separated from parents at legal crossings when when "family ties can be confirmed." Nevertheless there are 20,000 beds on their way to the warehousing facilities where the children continue to be sent. I'm thinking most of these desperate, terrified people don't have documentation. And so their children are taken. And the ones too scared to present themselves at a border crossing? We both know what happens to them. So in fact, the vast majority of people seeking asylum at border crossings, and elsewhere, have their children taken from them. Isn't that right?

I am sure you wouldn't dream of taking a child away from his/her parents without trying every possible means of determining familial relationship. If the parent fleeing gang violence doesn't have time to apply for a passport for their children, I am sure the US could provide speedy DNA tests to determine parentage. Of course as a doctor I am sure you would support any and all methods of determining "familial ties" rather than psychologically scarring a young child by subjecting him/her to the prolonged terror of being separated from their beloved parent in a foreign country after a harrowing journey. Because otherwise, it would seem as though the psychological scarring, and the terror, were the whole point of this miserable exercise.

The world is watching. At what point, Senator, will protecting children supersede your desire to be re-elected?

Sincerely, Amy Ryan