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Report: Children Separated By White House’s Zero-Tolerance Policy ‘Can’t Feel’ Their Hearts

A report from the inspector general within the Department of Health and Human Services describes a dire and disturbing situation for children of migrants who were separated from their parents during the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy last year.

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The report described several instances of evidence of mental abuse, including one child, about 7- or 8-years-old, who thought his father had been killed, and who believed he would soon be killed as well. That child “ultimately required emergency psychiatric care to address his mental health distress,” the IG report found.

One clinician described that they heard many analogies relating to the heart. “You get a lot of ‘my chest hurts,’ even though everything is fine” from a medical standpoint, they explained, the Associated Press reported. Other children said things along the lines of “every heartbeat hurts,” or “I can’t feel my heart,” the report noted.

Overall, children felt more emotions of fear and abandonment. Symptoms of post-traumatic stress were more evident in children of migrants who had been separated from their parents than those who had not been separated, the report also concluded.

Reunions with parents often didn’t result in things getting better for children. Some children became inexplicably mad, others cried uncontrollably, and some felt feelings of guilt, upon reuniting with their parents.

The “zero-tolerance” policy was implemented with the idea that it would deter other immigrants from trying to enter the U.S., but was ended by an executive order from President Donald Trump amid growing pressure among the public, who reacted negatively to reports of it being put into place.

Though it technically ended during the summer of 2018, the American Civil Liberties Union alleged that the child separation policy continued long after that period of time, in roundabout ways.

Around 900 children were separated from their parents by the government since then, under auspicious reasonings from agencies, including one father who was separated from his daughter for more than half a year due to his not wanting to change her diaper until she finished her nap, prior reporting from HillReporter.com detailed.



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