By Wendy Young and Michelle Brane
Washington Post Letter to the Editor
There is no question that children with urgent medical needs that can’t be taken care of in Haiti should be transported to the United States or elsewhere to receive the care they need. But it is important that these children be carefully documented and registered with authorities and that significant efforts are made to reunify the children with family in Haiti before any adoption proceedings are considered.
Family unity is particularly important in times of crisis because children can be further traumatized by separation from their families, which can also lead to developmental problems. In the meantime, safe havens must be created for children who are separated, unaccompanied or orphaned.
In addition, mixed-status families should not be forced to choose between leaving behind family members who do not have authorization to enter the United States — particularly children — or remaining in Haiti to stay together.
The U.S. government should ensure that it does not inadvertently create more separated families; enacting a policy to allow these families to come to the United States together would prevent further trauma to Haitian children.
Wendy Young and Michelle Brane,
Wendy Young is executive director of Kids in Need of Defense. Michelle Brane is director of detention and asylum for the Women’s Refugee Commission.
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