The news is filled with stories of families being separated due to harsh immigration laws. These separations are often hardest on children, who can experience both psychological and physical effects. These effects can also last many years depending on the severity and duration of the trauma experienced by kids. The following illustrates that immigration legislation has actual effects on real people and families every day. 

Health effects 

There is a wide range of mental health effects that can occur to a child who is separated from his or her family for any reason. These mental effects can include the onset of depression and anxiety. A child may also develop post-traumatic stress disorder if the experience is trying enough. This is because many kids lack the ability to properly communicate their emotions, which leads to the internalization of trauma. Additionally, these effects can last into adulthood and may manifest as addictive or self-destructive behaviors. 

Physical effects may also occur. In the short-term, many children experience nausea and headaches, as well as diminished appetite. There is a link between chronic stress and medical issues, including heart disease, high blood pressure, gastrointestinal problems, and eating disorders. And for kids placed in detention centers for long periods of time, chronic stress is a likely development. 

Problems with brain development 

Chronic and traumatic stress can also disrupt brain development in young children. When the body is frequently under stress, it produces the hormones adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones can actually cause significant damage to the brain over time, which can lead to problems with behavior and thinking later in life. 

Children must have a loving, stable presence in their lives to maintain a healthy outlook. When it is perceived that parents are no longer available, which is the case within a detention setting, children are bound to experience a wide range of ill effects.