Calling on Lawmakers: Pass the Child Trauma Response Act

Safe Passage, June 13, 2019

On June 5, 2019 Safe Passage Project’s Executive Director Rich Leimsider, Deputy Executive Director Desireé Hernández, and Managing Attorney Alexandra Rizio paid a visit to Albany to join with lawmakers, fellow legal service providers, and activists in calling for the Child Trauma Response Act (CTRA).

The CTRA is designed to provide young people who were separated from their families at the border with free services – including healthcare, education, mental health support, and legal representation. Safe Passage Project stands firmly in favor of enacting this bill for the benefit of the thousands of children affected by the Trump administrations “Zero Tolerance” policy. We cannot undo the forcible family separations enacted by this administration, but what we can and must do is react now by putting systems in place to provide support for young people who have endured this horrific policy.

Speaking to the crowd in the State Capitol Building, Safe Passage Project’s Deputy Executive Director Desireé Hernández said, “This is not a fair system. This is not a just system. We are excited and inspired by the Child Trauma Response Act – especially about the legislation that would give free lawyers to immigrant children facing deportation, like the ones that Safe Passage Project serves.”

Research from the American Academy of Pediatrics and other institutions make it incredibly clear that family separation and detention are harmful to young people’s development and well-being, and the negative effects are not only short-term but can be life-long. Meanwhile, the Trump administration continues to place new attacks on migrant youth – including most recently cutting access to education, legal services, and recreational activities in federal migrant shelters.

Safe Passage Project’s Executive Director, Rich Leimsider says of the CTRA, “We know that without an attorney, most of these young people will lose their cases – but with an attorney by their side, more than 90% will succeed. And we know that there are thousands more of New York’s children who need support. Safe Passage Project is deeply encouraged by the leadership of Assemblyman Hevesi and Senator Biaggi in seeking to address this crisis.”


See the Assembly State of New York Albany’s full press release here.