Dr. Colleen Kraft, the President of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said removing children from the care of their parents at the border amounts to a form of child abuse.
Kraft, who heads the professional association of pediatricians, visited a facility where children who had been separated for their parents were being held.
She found toddlers — who you'd expect to be rambunctious — staying unusually silent, she said. One young girl sat wailing.
"This is not normal activity or brain development with these children. The takeaway is that these children need their parents," she said. "This does amount to child abuse."
Dr. Kraft was first invited by local pediatricians to visit a government shelter for immigrant children in Combes, Texas, this spring, and was shaken by what she saw.
"I've never been in this situation where I've felt so needlessly helpless," she told CNN of the visit.