Donald Trump admits that his administration is taking children away from their refugee parents as his way of punishing them and as a warning sign to parents not to dare to attempt immigration.

Once again, he has acted without considering the consequences. He has shown no concern about the devastating impact he has had on refugee children and their families. Rather, he’s acted as if these children don’t exist. His focus is on his wall and keeping the promise he made to his wall supporters rather than the thousands of children who’ve been torn from their parents.

Agents have reportedly lied about where the children will go and when they will see their parents or family members. The children don’t know who they can trust and may not understand English. They are locked into facilities not suited for children and often with staff not trained to care for them or administer needed medical care.

Two children have now died in custody, and many more risk malnutrition, dehydration and possible physical and sexual abuse. Those who survive will likely have post-traumatic stress disorder for years to come and, given their experiences, they may have attachment disorders and difficulty trusting people as well.

Child abuse is a reportable crime, and Trump should be charged, tried and punished for it. He is not above the law, even though he may think he is.

Diane H. Schetky, M.D.

Topsham