The 10-year-old girl was living with her mother again, but she still could not sleep alone.
It had been a year since their reunion since the split under the Trump administration, but nightmares still haunted him.
He took weekly therapy classes for three months so that he would feel comfortable in bed and stop blaming family members for what happened.
“It was a terrible injury. “I feel there is so much damage inside of us,” said his mother, Hoselin, whose last name was not released due to her immigrant status.
Hundreds of children have received advice from therapists who describe a range of disturbing behaviors. Some of the children feel the burden on their families and think about suicide. Others use alarm drugs after months in prison. Nightmares are common, և children struggle to sleep alone.
Such counseling for mental health is so important that in 2019, a federal judge ordered the federal government to pay for the hearings, saying that the “zero tolerance” immigration policy had caused “severe psychological damage” through “deliberate indifference.”
But the future of these services is in the air, as the government’s contract to coordinate them expires in July. Uncertainty comes at a time when the number of people in need of treatment is expected to increase as the Biden administration accelerates reunification.
This month, the first four families reunited under Biden, including three-year-olds, gathered on the San Diego border.
The Biden administration has not confirmed whether it will extend the contract with the California-based nonprofit Seneca family, which has coordinated services for more than 400 families. Secretary of National Security Alejandro N. Mallorca said in a statement last week that the government was aware of “the need to provide [reunited] families that have stability և resources needed to heal. ”
A spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security said the federal task force was working to “set up a system to provide mental health support, stability to families here in the United States, and still recovering from separation injuries.” »
Advocates say mental health treatment is important for families to overcome their trials.
“The most amazing thing for me is how long this injury has lasted,” said Stephanie Perez, a behavioral health doctor at La Clínica de la Raza who has worked with affected children. “We have more than two years, և there are still many children, caregivers, families who are suffering, և who find it difficult to cope every day. For most families, this is a life-changing process. ”
Mental health services began last spring, five months after a judge ordered the government to provide treatment to families. A single family reuniting և living in the United States is eligible under that order, comprising approximately 2,200 potential families. Nearly 415 families from the nearly 1,000 families who contacted Seneca received services.
Under the $ 14.5 million contract, each family receives an average of 18 sessions. Some received more treatments, but some stopped working. Some say it ‘s because they do not want to survive the injury. Adding an epidemic tragedy to the separation wound, at least one person died of COVID-19 before she could begin therapy with her 16-year-old son.
At La Clլինnica de la Raza in Auckland, some children undergoing therapy blamed themselves or their parents for the separations, according to Perez, a clinician. In response, Perez told them that the separation was due to US policy. He shows them information graphs of different places where other families are divided.
“I think going through that schedule with customers gives them information where they can see. ‘I was not the only person who went through that,'” Perez said. “An injury can be very isolating. It is useful for them to see that, unfortunately, other people have gone through that as well.
Perez worked with a handful of children under the age of 14. Often, Perez said, they reluctantly shared their time in custody or, at least in one case, their time in a foster family.
Perez asks them to write stories or illustrate books about who they were before they crossed the border and their hopes for the future.
A girl who was taken from her mother was asked to paint what she cherishes the most. He painted a house in front of which he and his mother were holding hands together. “Be with your family no matter what,” he wrote in Spanish.
Therapists say that separations often complicate injuries that occur before children or their parents cross the border. Many came to the United States after avoiding violence and criminal gangs in their home countries.
Elana Storey, a licensed clinical social worker based in Auckland, said she helps children with breathing, ground and muscle relaxation exercises. It includes art ուկ soft animals. On one occasion, he offered kvitapena accessories for a Guatemalan alarm doll.
“There are many examples,” Story said, “with playfulness, a child can offer a tool to manage their emotions or to understand their emotions, to calm some of those emotions in a healthy way.”
Storn says she is concerned that children who have not reunited or been able to receive treatment after separation “are even more likely to develop health conditions, mental health conditions in childhood, adolescence and adulthood.”
“The mental health effects of these divisions can affect families for generations,” he said.
Joselin said that he fled El Salvador to the United States in 2018 to avoid gang threats and extortion. Only he will have to explain to his daughter that they will both separate.
He told her that it would only be a while before the girl would be sent to a place where they would take better care of the children.
“I thought he would be better than us, even if I was suffering,” said Hoselin, cutting his voice in excitement. “As a mother, you do not want your children to suffer.”
The girl was detained for two months before being released near her father in Auckland. Joselin spent about a year in prison in Texas, during which his daughter often cried, talked to her father, and fired at family members.
Even after they joined in March 2019, Hoselin said. “He was still injured.” But through therapy organized by Seneca, Joselin said he was slowly regaining his daughter’s love and trust.
“Sometimes children do not show their physical damage, but they have it psychologically,” said Hoselin. “I hope all these parents get help so that the injuries do not affect their children’s future.”