Caring for Families Separated by Changing Immigration Policies and Enforcement: A Cultural Psychiatry Perspective

Brandon AK.; Lu, FG.; Wu EY.; Hinton, DE.; Aggarwal, NK.; Parekh, R. ; Rousseau, C.; Lewis-Fernández, R. (2018)


69(12) | 1200-1203

Recent changes in U.S. immigration policies and enforcement have precipitated a 300% rise in arrests and planned deportations. Although some family members face deportation, other family members may have state-sanctioned status. Such mixed status puts hundreds of thousands of families at risk of forced separation and associated mental health problems. Building on cross-cultural work with refugee families and other groups and on work with families separated by parental incarceration, the authors provide recommendations to guide clinicians working with families who are separated or who fear separation. Mental health problems among separated families can in part be addressed through identifying the origins of distress, elucidating family structures and roles, strengthening communication practices, linking with legal and economic resources, and facilitating decision making through distress reduction.