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Families Belong Together

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, July 3, 2018

By Kevin Hammon
2018 SCCBA President

Where does the time go? It is the middle of summer, but many of us are already calendaring hearings, meetings, depositions, and other events deep into the fall months.  Santa Clara County Bar Association staff are hard at work planning a variety of fall programs, including the annual Judges’ Night event on October 10, 2018. For parents, just as we finish planning or enjoying the summer family vacation, our attention must turn to the first day of school. We ask the small questions: do we have enough school supplies? what time do the bells ring? and, which teacher(s) will we get?  We ask the big questions: will my child fit in? is my child smart enough? and, is my child emotionally equipped to handle a totally new educational experience?



Although the first day of school can be frightening, it is often accompanied by careful planning and consideration. Some parents send their young children to school with an important toy, blanket, or book to provide comfort during the adjustment period. We try to keep siblings together. We tour the school many times before the actual start date.  We meet the teachers. Fortunately, most school environments are deliberately child-focused.  Despite a predictably terrifying first day of school, our children often adjust well to their new surroundings thanks to an abundance of love, support, coping strategies, and safety factors. 

Children crave structure and stability.  A disruption in routine can have catastrophic consequences for even an emotionally healthy child. Like many Americans, I have spent the past two months transfixed by the heart-wrenching images and stories of migrant children detained and displaced at the southern border. There are no words and not enough words to describe the unabashed cruelty of systematically separating children from their parents and imprisoning asylum-seekers in detention camps.  It is difficult to articulate an insightful perspective on an issue this fundamental, an issue without nuance. Nevertheless, there is value in speaking out against atrocity, and amplifying the multitude of voices for humanity. On June 21, 2018, the SCCBA issued this statement:

The SCCBA strongly opposes any government policy or congressional action that violates the due process rights of migrants seeking entry to the United States, including indefinite detentions, forcibly separating children from their parents, and forcing children, including toddlers, to appear in court on their own with no right to appointed counsel. These practices not only violate due process, but they are in opposition to the humanitarian values which represent founding principles of our democracy.  



Additionally, the SCCBA endorsed a letter authored by the American Bar Association’s President Hilarie Bass.  The ABA encourages immigration reform that is comprehensive and just, and insists that everyone involved with the process be treated with dignity and respect. For more information, I encourage you to visit the SCCBA’s recent statement and links to other resources, available at this webpage.

Of course, the first day of school is a far cry from the horrific traumas suffered by migrant children at the border.  Nevertheless, the first day is a reminder of how sensitive children are to change.  Even with the best of child-focused intentions, a new experience can be utterly frightening.  I can only imagine how the federal government’s immigration policies have affected children’s emotional and psychological development.  The President of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Colleen Kraft, concluded that forced family separation affects the child’s brain chemistry in a way that amounts to child abuse.  



I am proud to be part of a community that champions empathy, and the president of an association that sees value in shedding light on inhumane policies and practices.  If you have any additional ideas for how the SCCBA can address this important issue, please do not hesitate to contact me.   

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