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Letter: Border children need supports

Empty shoes are piled in Westbury during an

Empty shoes are piled in Westbury during an immigration rights rally by Make the Road NY on July 29, 2014. The shoes are meant to symbolize the thousands of families separated by what they believe to be a broken immigration system. Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

The crisis of unaccompanied Latino children crossing the border has polarized the federal government ["New students pose challenge," News, Sept. 8]. Politicians are playing pingpong with the lives of children.

One serious topic seems to be overlooked: the mental health needs of these minors. Their past was often fraught with violence. Their present is surviving an arduous journey, detainment and possible deportation. Their future may include acclimating to the United States, the uncertainty of their legal status and racism.

As a bilingual school social worker, I've worked with immigrant students for 17 years. The majority are humble and family oriented. They desire to do well in school and have a safe, productive future.

While the politicians continue to squabble toward yet another impasse on immigration, and neighborhoods continue their NIMBY attitude, we as mental health professionals need to support these young people not just with shelter and food, but also by providing culturally and linguistically appropriate mental health services. These children can be extremely resilient and emotionally resourceful once they have the opportunity to be heard through psychological support and caring.

Vilma Matos, East Northport

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