As the president vowed to tighten immigration enforcement during his Arizona trip, educators say an epidemic of fear is boosting school absenteeism and leaving millions of children with crippling anxiety

For the estimated 1 million undocumented children in the US – and the roughly 4.5 million young people born here who have at least one undocumented parent, like the Duartes – Trump’s immigration crackdown is creating high levels of psychological distress. As students head back to school this fall, school officials from New York to New Mexico are preparing for increased anxiety and absenteeism among students of immigrant families.

“Kids start lagging behind academically, having social stress, anxiety, depression,” said Lisseth Rojas-Flores, an associate professor of marital and family therapy at Fuller Theological Seminary in California. “With the new administration and all the threats for deportation that are so vivid and so real, and all the rhetoric that’s going around, the anxiety escalates to a point that can be very paralyzing for some of these kids, who don’t want to go to school, or who go to school and sit in there and still worry about their families.”

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