ResourcesPress Release

Physicians for Human Rights to Convene Doctors, Medical Students in Front of White House in Opposition to Child Detention and Family Separation at the U.S. Southern Border

***MEDIA ADVISORY*** 11:15 a.m. on Tuesday, July 16, 2019

WASHINGTON – As the humanitarian crisis at the U.S. Southern border has become increasingly severe, Physicians for Human Rights has organized delegations of medical clinicians at the border to interview children, families, and other asylum seekers with the goal of documenting the medical and psychological trauma caused as a direct result of U.S. policy. PHR’s findings make clear that it’s beyond time for the U.S. administration to end all policies that lead to the detention of children and separation of families.

On Tuesday, July 16, at 11:30 a.m., Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) will convene medical professionals and medical students outside of the White House at Lafayette Square to oppose the harmful detention of families and children at the U.S. Southern border. PHR is mobilizing its network of medical clinicians to elevate awareness of the humanitarian health crisis at the U.S. Southern border and demand sufficient medical care for migrants. PHR is urging the U.S. government to end the detention of families and children and to implement policies that allow migrants at the border to access their legal rights to seek asylum.

Immediately before Tuesday’s mobilization, PHR will deliver a letter to the Department of Homeland Security. Signed by more than 60,000 people, the letter demands justice for children at the U.S. Southern border and calls on the U.S. administration to end the detention and separation of children.

WHAT: Medical professionals demonstrate to end child detention and family separation at the U.S. Southern Border
WHEN: Tuesday, July 16, from 11:30 a.m. – 12 p.m.
WHERE: Lafayette Square, Washington, D.C.
WHO: Physicians for Human Rights convenes medical professionals and medical students

Speakers will include:
Dr. Ranit Mishori, a member of PHR’s Asylum Network, medical expert consultant to PHR’s program on sexual violence in conflict, and professor of family medicine at Georgetown University School of Medicine, with expertise in forensic evaluations of asylum seekers, torture survivors, and survivors of sexual violence
• Meredith Peck, 4th-year medical student, Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine in New York, who serves as co-chair of the PHR medical student advisory board

PHR staff available for interview:
Michael Payne, advocacy officer at PHR, who coordinates and supports PHR’s policy work in Washington, D.C., and its advocacy work internationally

Media is invited to attend the gathering. Speakers will be available for interview. Photos will be available afterward for media use.

Additional Background on PHR’s Asylum Work:
In June, PHR released two groundbreaking reports on 1) the medical and mental health impacts of exposure to trauma in children seeking asylum; and 2) how U.S. immigration enforcement is impacting patients in health facilities across the United States. Both reports speak to policy implications and the need for policy solutions, and include detailed recommendations for the U.S. government and other parties.

PHR worked with the Weill Cornell Center for Human Rights to produce its report, “There is No One Here to Protect You: Trauma Among Children Fleeing Violence in Central America,” which presents the first case series of child and adolescent asylum seekers arriving in the United States. The report cites physical and sexual violence by gangs and family members against children in their home countries, as well as compounding trauma in transit to the United States and in U.S. immigration detention.

PHR’s policy brief “Not in My Exam Room,” documents discriminatory practices by U.S. immigration enforcement that has led to egregious health care violations, including impeding patient care and neglect of medical advice. The brief details harsh immigration enforcement actions within the militarized border zone which are violating patient rights and creating widening racial and ethnic health disparities, as well as putting the health care of patients and the ethical obligations of medical professionals at risk.

PHR has repeatedly called on the U.S. administration to guarantee the basic health of individuals in its custody and provide adequate medical treatment of children affected by trauma in regard to both physical and mental health.

PHR Resources on Asylum and the U.S. Border
Report: “There is No One Here to Protect You,” June 10, 2019
o Press Release: “Asylum-Seeking Children from Northern Triangle Suffer Multi-Dimensional, Recurrent, Sustained Trauma,” June 10, 2019
Policy Brief: “Not in My Exam Room,” June 10, 2019
o Press Release: “U.S. Immigration Enforcement Practices Violate Patient Rights and Medical Ethics,” June 10, 2019
o Fact Sheet: “Establishing Sanctuary Hospitals: Protecting the Right to Access Health Care,” June 10, 2019

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.

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