Immigrants hope to start a new life in the land of opportunity. Yet families arrive together only to be separated into cages. Packed together they wait for someone in a foreign language to signal them to the next traumatic event.

The Department of Homeland Security has uncovered numerous maltreatment and overcrowding cases like this in CBP (Custom Border Patrol) facilities. All of this can worsen the mental health of families and individuals awaiting trial hearings. 

Fortunately the Immigrants’ Mental Health Act of 2020 introduces great resources to avoid causing more trauma in CBP facilities. The act will hire professionals and train staff to help recognize risk factors and warning signs of mental health issues related to trauma. All mental evaluations of immigrants will be confidential. It cannot be used against them as they await immigration hearings. 

The Act’s requirements include training of CBP agents to manage stress properly, incorporate bilingual staff and practice awareness of cultural differences. Additionally, there will be reviews to track the progress of this bill which promises hopeful improvements of the treatment immigrants receive, while creating better interactions between CBP staff and immigrants.

Together we could make sure CBP facilities and their staff act responsibly to make positive changes in our communities.

We urge you to email senator Robert Hertzberg of San Fernando Valley in support of this bill using the link: https://sd18.senate.ca.gov/contact

Rosa Gutierrez and Jennifer Alvarez are graduate students at USC.

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