APA was invited to brief Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) staff on the mental health impacts of COVID-19 on Latinx children. APA member Alfonso Mercado, PhD, of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and president-elect of the Texas Psychological Association, provided an overview of his work at the border with immigrants and the detrimental impact recent policies have had on immigrants. Mercado highlighted the number of children arriving in the United States with trauma exposure and post-traumatic stress symptoms as a result of their experiences in their home country and also from their journey to the United States. Mercado also discussed how family separations continue to occur at the border.
APA and Mercado offered the following policy recommendations to the CHC staff: support and pass the Immigrant’s Mental Health Act of 2020 (H.R. 6075/S. 3392) introduced by Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.). The bill would improve access to trauma-informed mental health interventions for newly-arriving immigrants at the border and alleviate the stress of and provide education for border agents. APA advocacy staff worked closely with Rep. Napolitano’s staff on this legislation. Mercado also recommended that the Senate pass the Dream Act and that both chambers consider funding for immigrant families and their mental health needs in the final negotiations of the next COVID-19 relief package.
APA staff will continue to work with the CHC on policies that benefit immigrants and their families.
For more information, contact Serena Dávila.