11:54 GMT +323 July 2019
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    Illegal Immigrants' Children Suffer in US Detention Center - Advocacy Group

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    Undocumented immigrant children and their parents held at a US detention center in Pennsylvania suffered serious effects on their physical and mental wellbeing, the Human Rights First (HRF) advocacy group said in a report.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The facility does not have Spanish-speaking mental health providers, even though the majority of families sent to family detention in the United States are Spanish-speaking and many have suffered high rates of trauma, physical and sexual violence, and exploitation, it noted.

    “[HRF] found that children and their parents detained at the Berks County Residential Center in Leesport experience tremendous legal and health challenges, including detrimental effects on their mental health,” the report, released on Wednesday, stated.

    The families also encountered delays in their immigration proceedings, lack of access to legal counsel and bond requirements for their release that were too high for them to afford, according to the report.

    “The bottom line is that detention, even for short amounts of time, is detrimental to the health and well-being of a child,” Human Rights First official Olga Byrne, who researched and wrote the report, said.

    Some families are asked to pay bonds of $5,000 or more, amounts that are too high for indigent asylum seekers to afford, blocking or delaying their release from detention, the report noted.

    “The Obama Administration should immediately abandon this misguided approach and implement other measures, such as community-based programs, which are proven effective and less costly,” Byrne stated.

    Many detained parents, the report observed, reported symptoms of their children’s behavioral regressions, depression, anxiety and increased aggression toward both parents and other children.

    Also, “The practice of entering and shining flashlights into the rooms of sleeping families every 15 minutes throughout the night causes insomnia, fear and anxiety in children and parents held at the Berks facility,” the report said.

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