Child trauma experts fear long-term impacts of border separations

AURORA, Colo. -- President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order ending family separations at the southern border.

However, about 50 detainees remain locked up in an Immigration and Customs Enforcement contract detention facility in Aurora.

It is still unclear when those detainees will be reunited with their children.

A large group gathered outside the facility Tuesday afternoon to protest the family separations.

Meanwhile, several local nonprofits in the Denver area are working to assist the families waiting to be reunited.

Sarah Jackson, who runs Casa de Paz, a nonprofit that temporarily houses detainees released from the Aurora facility, said only one detainee has been released in Aurora so far, a woman who fled Guatemala seeking asylum in the United States.

“Her husband tried to kill her, and along her way (to the U.S.) she said it was horrific, because they were robbed of all their possessions,” she said.

The mother was separated from her 7-year-old daughter at the border. She was sent to Colorado. Her daughter was transported to a camp in Texas.

“And she had no way to know the conditions, how she was being treated, and if she was OK,” said Jackson.

The family separations are causing worries for parents, but it’s even more traumatic for children.

Kirk Ward with Mount Saint Vincent, a nonprofit that treats kids coping with trauma, said he fears many of the children heard crying at the border camps will suffer separation anxiety depression and even post-traumatic stress disorder issues that will last well into adulthood.

“If that trauma continues over a long period of time that can actually begin to shift brain development because it becomes more of a chronic trauma,” Ward said.

Ward hopes Wednesday’s executive order will lessen the impact, and be something that will now allow families to reunite.

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