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Immigration

Protecting confidential records of immigrant children’s mental health sessions

APA-supported language on confidentiality of immigrant records included in House funding bill.
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American Psychological Association. (2020, July 28). Protecting confidential records of immigrant children’s mental health sessions. http://www.apaservices.org/advocacy/news/confidential-records
Protecting confidential records of immigrant children’s mental health sessions

APA’s strong advocacy and broad reach across both chambers of Congress helped lead to the House including confidentiality language that prohibits the sharing of confidential records in its funding bill.  The House Fiscal Year  2021 Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations bill included specific language that would protect the confidentiality of immigrant children in counseling sessions and prohibit the sharing of such confidential information provided by unaccompanied children during mental health or therapeutic services with U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or the Department of Justice for immigration enforcement. APA is proud to have helped secure such language in the final House bill through our advocacy efforts. 

Earlier this year, APA advocated to end the sharing of confidential mental health information of child immigrants and worked with many congressional offices to halt this practice. In a letter to the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the acting secretary of the DHS, APA specifically requested that the Office of Refugee Resettlement stop sharing confidential mental health information obtained from child immigrants in shelter care with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement  and U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents in making asylum determinations.  APA also led a letter with 50 other members of the Mental Health Liaison Group calling for congressional oversight hearings to evaluate the impact of the sharing of confidential therapy records of detained children.  Last year, APA sent a letter to Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), chairwoman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education about the subcommittee’s hearing on the administration’s unaccompanied children’s program.  The chairwoman quoted APA’s letter at the hearing.

APA’s advocacy staff will continue to press for this provision as the legislation advances through the full House and in the Senate.

For more information, contact Serena Davila, JD.