The open borders advocacy group National Council of La Raza said Wednesday morning that government-led immigration raids induced mental disorders and instilled fear among immigrant children.
The National Council of La Raza commissioned the left-leaning Urban Institute to conduct a study on the how children of undocumented workers swept up in recent immigration raids were affected. Their findings, published in a report titled “Paying the Price: The Impact of Immigration Raids on America’s Children” were released in a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. On the cover of the report was a photograph of a crying child.
Rosa Maria Castaneda, research associate of the Urban Institute, said children in her study suffered from “depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, separation anxiety and one boy was diagnosed with having suicidal thoughts.”
Castaneda also said immigrant children suffered from “aggressive behaviors, sleep patterns that are changing, changes in appetite and some of the kids had exaggerated mood swings” because of the raids.
The report examined children whose parents were detained when federal authorities investigated two Swift & Company meatpacking plants located in Grand Island, Nebraska and Greely, Colorado, as well as Michael Bianco, Inc., a textile manufacturer that makes backpacks for the U.S. military located in New Bedford, Massachusetts.
During those raids 900 undocumented workers were arrested. The Urban Institute estimated that those 900 undocumented workers had more than 500 children whose lives were disrupted during the raids.
Over the last year, the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement has dramatically increased worksite enforcement. Last December, ICE agents arrested almost 1,600 undocumented workers when they rolled up on six different Swift & Company meatpacking plants. The Michael Bianco, Inc. plant was investigated in March and yielded 361 arrests. Since then, ICE agents have made at least 700 worksite enforcement-related arrests in nine different states.
The formal report stated the government’s enforcement activities could permanently damage children’s mental stability. It said: “Large-scale worksite raids involve an extensive show of force on the part of immigration authorities….the experience of witnessing force used against their parents could leave a lasting psychological impact on children and adolescents.”
Urban Institute Senior Research Associate Randy Capps said the negative impact of the raids could be mitigated if parents were released quickly. “ICE should assume there will always be children, generally young children who will be affected by the raids,” Capps said. “They should develop a consistent policy for releasing parents. And single-parents should be released on the same day.”
Reverend E. Roy Riley, Bishop of the New Jersey Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in American, who has testified before Congress on matters of welfare reform and immigration, was also on hand at the event. At the Press Club he urged Congress to take action to protect the immigrant children. In his remarks he addressed concerns that undocumented workers should have considered what effect their illegal status could have on their children.
“All parents should have thought that and their children’s jeopardy before they came here,” he said. “But for the vast majority of these young immigrant families that is exactly what they did. They weighed jeopardy of children where they were and wanted more than anything else to give their children an adequate home, sufficient food and a good education, a chance for a better life.”