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This weekend saw a great deal of chaos as authorities attempted to implement President Trump’s recent executive orders that ban entries from seven Muslim majority countries and halted refugee admissions.

In an interview with ABC news anchor John Muir, the President insisted that these actions are necessary to protect the United States from terrorism and violence and that only those individuals who have gone through an “extreme vetting” process will be able to enter.

What the President didn’t address was that these actions impact millions of innocent children both in the United States and those asking for asylum to flee terrible conditions in their home countries. The Executive Order banning Muslims from Libya, Sudan, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, and Somalia is already threatening the emotional and physical health of young children. On Saturday, at Dulles Airport in Virginia, U.S. agents detained a 5-year-old American citizen traveling from Iran to the United States and held away from his mother for many hours. This is simply inhumane. A 5-year-old cannot possibly pose a threat to national security and children will continued to be traumatized across the country if enforcement of the executive order continues.

Currently, 1 in 4 children in the United States live in a household with one or more immigrant parent. The latest executive actions have placed an enormous stress on these families as children wonder whether they, or their family members, might get deported, or separated if traveling abroad. Research shows that this type of fear can result in devastating impacts to children’s physical and mental health, economic security, education, and overall development.

Furthermore, halting the refugee program for 90 days and cutting the number of asylum visas places tens of thousands of children seeking asylum in grave danger. In addition to the millions of children fleeing violence in Syria, the last three years has seen a steady influx of children fleeing Central America and making their way to the United States. In 2016, alone, 59,692 unaccompanied children were apprehended at the southern border, predominantly from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. These countries are strife with political instability, trafficking and violence, forcing children to make arduous journeys to neighboring countries and the United States to find a safe home.

The refugee program already posed a number of hurdles for unaccompanied children to gain lawful immigration status, including a lack of legal representation, backed up immigration court dockets, inadequate notice of hearings, and a limit on the number of asylum visas that could be allocated for those applying from their home countries. The latest policies set forth in the Executive Order will only exacerbate the process and place more children in harm’s way because they cannot gain entry into the United States. Most unaccompanied children entering the United States have sponsors ready to provide homes and support when they arrive.

Children are the future of the country. We must provide a safe environment, free of racial profiling so they can thrive and achieve their dreams–that is what will truly make America stronger.

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