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CNYPA’s Statement on the Policy of Separating Families at the Border

The Central New York Psychological Association (CNYPA) strongly opposes the current administration’s blanket policy of separating immigrant children from their parents at our country’s border – a policy that has reportedly affected thousands of children this year. We are deeply alarmed as mental health professionals about the traumatic and persistent effects that such an approach will have on the development and mental health of those detained. As such, we call for a swift end to a practice that due to its damaging psychological effects, runs counter to values of humanity and compassion.

Collective clinical experience and the available scientific evidence demonstrate that abrupt and extended separation from caregivers profoundly disrupts children’s fundamental sense of security in ways that adversely and enduringly alter their subsequent emotional, cognitive, social and physical development. The National Child Traumatic Stress Network specifically lists parental separation and deportation as a situation from which children may develop post traumatic responses. These children show increased levels of psychological distress, including depression, anxiety and behavioral problems. Further, research indicates that families who attempt to enter the United States often faced adverse conditions in their home countries, and thus vulnerable individuals who are already at-risk for psychological difficulties are being needlessly denied the basic but vital feeling of safety that closeness to caregivers provides.

CNYPA has added its name to the growing list of organizations and mental health professionals (including the New York State Psychological Association) who have supported a letter authored by Diana L. Sinopoli, PsyD ( Please join us in condemning the traumatic practice of separating children from their parents as an unacceptable and inhumane response to unlawful immigration. Non-mental health professionals are welcome to sign as well, so please share the invitation broadly.

With hope that our voices will inspire change,

Afton Kapuscinski, Ph.D.
President, Central New York Psychological Association