Immigrant families struggle with trauma


Associated Press

SAN DIEGO

A 6-year-old immigrant boy sobs at the school bus stop in suburban Maryland and begs his mother to promise she will not disappear again.

A toddler in Honduras wakes up screaming and searches for the government social worker who cared for him for several months. Other children duck or hide their faces when they see a uniformed officer.

Families who were separated at the U.S.-Mexico border by the Trump administration and then reunited with their children say they are suffering deep emotional wounds and want the U.S. government to pay for mental-health treatment to remedy the situation.

The families say the joyous reunions that occurred after the government reversed its policy have given way to agonizing daily routines as they’ve settled back into life in the U.S. and Central America. They say both the children and parents are traumatized by the ordeal.

Once easy-going children are now jumpy, disobedient, short-tempered and afraid of school, their parents say. They have nightmares on a regular basis. Little things trigger tears, even in older kids.

“I can’t sleep away from my son, nor he from me,” Iris Eufragio said in a phone interview with The Associated Press from Rosedale, Md., where she and her 6-year-old boy, Ederson, are living with family friends while they seek asylum after fleeing violence in Honduras.

The government separated them at the border in June and reunited them under court order after the boy spent a month at a Phoenix detention center.

The son is struggling to adjust. As a kindergartner in Honduras, he loved school. Now teachers have had to embrace him to stop him from running off campus to get back to his mother. He keeps asking whether he may have to return to a detention center.

“Just seeing a police car makes him scared,” Eufragio said.

Don't Miss a Story

Sign up for our newsletter to receive daily news directly in your inbox.