With Donald Trump as president, many have been affected in different ways, including children. A young girl filmed her father being detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials. Two others packed the bags of their mother who was deported. Children also wrote messages about the fear of losing their parents.
Children continue to be affected and this is clear in a New Mexico city, which saw a drastic drop in school attendance after an ICE raid.
On February 15, people were detained by ICE in the outskirts of Las Cruces, New Mexico.
Rumors followed that similar raids would happen in the city, home to 100,000 people. On February 16, Las Cruces’ public schools experienced a 60% increase in absences – 2,100 children missed school that day, according to The New Yorker. The next day, February 17, attendance was similar, with 2,000 absentees. Although this only lasted for a few days, the impact ICE had on children couldn’t be overseen.
“It was alarming,” Greg Ewing, the district’s superintendent, told The New Yorker’s writer, Jonathan Blitzer.
Ewing wrote a letter, in English and Spanish, on February 16, reassuring them that there would be no ICE raids on school campuses.
Despite this, parents weren’t at ease, especially those of younger students, who have a higher chance of being dropped off by an undocumented parent or family member. At elementary schools, absences rose by almost 150% two days after the raid.
In the past, ICE was known to avoid “sensitive locations” like schools, churches, and hospitals. But many aren’t sure that this policy will be kept up by the Trump administration.
Mexico school administrators have seen up close how ICE has taken a toll on
children. At Arrowhead Park Early College High School, a freshman cried in the
nurse’s office after being dropped off by her undocumented mother. On their
drive to school, they had spotted ICE checking for citizenship papers and avoided them by using back roads. But the student was afraid she wouldn’t see her parents
Ewing understands the fear parents and students are experiencing, especially with their proximity to Mexico.
The city of Las Cruces is less than 50 miles away from the US-Mexico border. Checkpoints are often seen along the highways that lead in and out of the community.
Social workers paid visits to the homes of children who were absent for several days. Social worker Julie Kirkes told The New Yorker about visiting a scared family who had cooped themselves up in their home. She also found empty homes of students who had fled with their families.
Studies have shown that children of undocumented parents experience PTSD symptoms.
This includes “repetitive thoughts about stressful experiences, avoidance of certain activities, and hyper-alert behavior.” Almost 30% of these children are also afraid “all or most of the time.”
According to the Center for Migration Studies of New York, there are 5.7 million US children living with at least one undocumented parent or relative. In other words, millions of children across the country are experiencing, or will experience, the same fear of those in New Mexico.