The ACES (Adverse Childhood Experiences Study) has shown that maltreatment in childhood contributes to health problems throughout the lives of children. These problems include chronic diseases — heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes — that profoundly affect their lives, and are very expensive to treat.
Knowing this, why are we locking up children at the border under such terrible conditions? Some of these children will be U.S. citizens, and if they are not, they will be returned to their troubled countries in much worse condition than we Americans found them.
The current administration behaves as if locking immigrants and asylum-seekers up is the only possible path. However, the Department of Homeland Security has, under past administrations, created several alternatives to detention, which ICE has run. These include Intensive Supervision Appearance Program (involving electronic monitoring) and the Family Case Management Program (community monitoring). These programs could still be used. They are more humane, more in line with American values — and considerably less expensive.
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How much better, how much easier, how much smarter, and how much cheaper it would be to not lock people up, but to give families a fighting chance at citizenship.