APA advocates for federal policies on immigration that promote keeping families together. We particularly focus on minimizing the negative psychological impact that results from the separation of families.
Immigration Policy & Families
We support practical, humane immigration policies that consider the needs of immigrants, and particularly immigrant families. While APA recognizes the need to balance these policies with national security and public safety, immigrants are disproportionately likely to experience stress and other mental health concerns which can be exacerbated by harmful public policies, particularly those that enforce family separation.
Mass flows of migration do not happen by chance. Three major types are those who search for work; humanitarian refugees (including escaping war, violence and environmental catastrophe); and those seeking family reunification.
The Psychology of Immigration
APA Opposes Proposed Policies That Make It Easier to Deport Immigrants and Separate Families
Recent executive orders and proposed Trump Administration policies on border enforcement and interior enforcement are likely to compound the stress and trauma already experienced by populations at risk for discrimination, in addition to increasing stigma. Additionally, the directives call for an expansion of detention centers.
Families in detention centers fear deportation and separation and with that come associated harms to mental health. Immigrants who are detained are more vulnerable to psychological stress than their non-detained counterparts, with increasing risk of depression and other mental health symptoms the longer they are detained.
- Protect young adults who are here under The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. APA also supports the Bar Removal of Individuals Who Dream and Grow our Economy Act, S. 128, the BRIDGE Act. This legislation would give temporary relief from deportation for undocumented immigrants who are enrolled in the DACA program.
- Protect young adults who came to the United States through no fault of their own, also known as the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM Act).
- Establish humane detention standards.
- Keep families together and discourage deportation.
- Provide sufficient funding to ensure that immigrant youth are receiving appropriate medical and mental health services.
- Fund research on how racial/ethnic profiling can affect individuals, communities of color, and law enforcement, as well as the development of strong community-police relationships and programs to help recognize and overcome this practice.
- Fund research to better understand the deleterious effects of prejudice, stereotypes and discrimination upon both victims and perpetrators, and to help develop interventions to counteract them.
- Fund research to understand the current surge of child and adult immigrants, their exposure to trauma, the impact of detention and the most appropriate placement.
APA Policy Statements Related to Immigration
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Recent APA Advocacy Related to Immigration
APA aims to keep families together through its support of family-focused immigration policy.
About APA Advocacy
APA represents the largest and most visible national presence advocating for psychology at the federal level. There are three APA government relations offices and two APA-affiliated organizations that engage in government relations activities.