These doctors risked their careers to expose the dangers children face in immigrant family detention

Updated 4:39 AM ET, Thu May 23, 2019

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(CNN)Dr. Scott Allen and Dr. Pamela McPherson were used to working behind the scenes, quietly documenting the devastating things they'd seen.

Children's fingers crushed by cell doors. A boy who'd lost nearly a third of his body weight in a matter of days. Incorrect vaccine doses and missed diagnoses.
Each incident, the doctors say, was meticulously noted in reports they filed with the US Department of Homeland Security. Allen and McPherson -- an internist and a psychiatrist -- are expert consultants contracted by the department's Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.
Their mission: inspecting the facilities where US Immigration and Customs Enforcement detains immigrant families.
For years, the doctors' expert opinions, like the facilities they inspected, remained out of the spotlight -- unseen by most lawmakers and unheard by members of the public.
That changed, they say, when the Trump administration's policies left them no choice. The doctors became whistleblowers, speaking out with a dire warning. Family detention isn't safe, they said, and children's lives are at stake.
    "We are writing to you, members of Congress with oversight responsibility, because we have a duty to raise our concerns about the ongoing and future threat of harm to children posed by the current and proposed expansion of the family detention program," the doctors said in a letter to the leaders of the Senate Whistleblower Protection Caucus.
    Their new mission: Showing the world why immigrant family detention should be stopped.
    "Detention of innocent children should never occur in a civilized society, especially if there are less restrictive options, because the risk of harm to children simply cannot be justified," they wrote.