How immigration concerns could take a toll on kids

Constant talk of deportation could take a toll on young minds.

Among the hundreds who took part in marches and rallies across Austin on Thursday, many were students.

“My mother told me I couldn’t go to school. I had to stay at home,” said Arantsa Duarte of Akins High School.

‘A Day Without Immigrants’ aimed to bring attention to the work done by the many immigrants that make up the country. In Texas, some marched to make a statement against last week’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrests.

“The fear I have is (ICE is) going to take my mom and dad away from me,” said Duarte.

“If I get home from school and I don’t see that my parents are there, I’m going to get scared. I don’t have no one else,” said Omar Hernandez, a junior at Akins High School.

AISD attendance records weren’t available Thursday. At Del Valle ISD, officials reported only 57 percent of student showed up for class Thursday.

“It’s a fear we’ve seen for a while,” said Claudia Cardenas, a clinical psychologist of Austin International Counseling. “It’s effecting kids more than its effecting adults.”

Cardenas evaluates how immigrant families are impacted by deportation.

She said immigration has become a staple on social media. Events like President Trump’s travel ban executive order, to the Texas bill filed to eliminate ‘sanctuary cities’ all leading up to an unexpected ICE operation last week that detained 51, immigration may be a hard topic to ignore. Especially on social media -- a platform where many young mind get their news.

So seeing a short clip on Facebook of a man being arrested by immigration officials in a super market parking lot could lead a student to feel like they need to do something. Not having the accurate context behind the video, Cardenas says, could lead to grim consequences.

“So you start seeing things with them having difficulties with concentration and attention at school because they’ve held all these thing inside of them and they don’t have a place to put it out,” she said.

A possible solution? A parent actively listening and communicating with their child.

“Parents really need to be aware of what is your child being exposed to, what information they’re getting so you can help them process that information,” she said.

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