There are more than 70 children in New York state who were separated from their parents at the border due to the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters on Tuesday. The children are being held at 10 facilities in the following locations:
- Dobbs Ferry
There are several agencies that partner with ORR in New York state to house unaccompanied minors. WNYC confirmed that Abbott House in Westchester, Rising Ground in Westchester and MercyFirst on Long Island are housing children who were separated from their parents at the border. The station’s Matt Katz looked at the the agencies in New York state that have long received federal funding totalling $100 million to house unaccompanied minors.
Reports on the number of children who have been settled in New York have varied. The New York Civil Liberties Union told WNYC that more than 200 children were currently in the state. While a “federal source” told the Daily News that more than 300 children were currently in New York. On Monday, MercyFirst’s president told Newsday that eight children who were separated from their parents were being held at their facility on Long Island.
Cuomo also announced that the state was preparing a lawsuit in the next two weeks. He told reporters on a conference call on Tuesday that separating children from their parents was a, “violation of constitutional rights of the parent to the care, custody and control of their children.” It was unclear how this would affect the ongoing lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union. The governor also announced on Monday that he would not be sending the National Guard to the border in protest of the family separation policy.
Mayor Bill de Blasio penned an op-ed in CNN about a 9-year-old child who is currently in New York City after being separated from his mother at the border. The mayor also said the City would be dedicating resources to children who are housed in the city. Documented learned that the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs and the Administration for Children’s Services are in direct contact with the federal government on the issue of child separation.
‘Tender Age’ Shelters for Babies and Young Children
The federal government has three “tender age” shelters set up in Texas along the U.S.–Mexico border for babies and other young children forcibly separated from their parents, The Associated Press reported on Tuesday. Advocates and lawyers told The AP that access to the children is limited to protect their safety but this has resulted in little information about their wellbeing.
The three centers are in Combes, Raymondville and Brownsville and a fourth is planned to be built in Houston that would house up to 240 children in a warehouse previously used for people displaced by Hurricane Harvey, Mayor Sylvester Turner said. Doctors and lawyers who visited the facilities said the kids were hysterical, asking where their parents are. The Associated Press
‘Mami … papa’ — Children Cry for Their Parents at the Border
A haunting audio clip recorded from the border provided a devastating look at the Trump administration’s family separation policy. In the clip, obtained by ProPublica’s Ginger Thompson, children can be heard sobbing as a Customs and Border Patrol agent quips “We have an orchestra here.” One young girl can be heard desperately trying to give a counselor her aunt’s phone number, which she had memorized. ProPublica
More Than 2,000 Children Separated from Their Parents
Between May 5 and 9, 2,342 children were separated from their parents “zero tolerance” policy, Trump administration officials told reporters on Tuesday. A Health and Human Services official (the agency that includes ORR) spoke on the “tent cities” being erected in Texas to house children who have been separated, stating that they will only be used for teens. MSNBC reported they will house up to 4,000 beds. He also said that footage of where girls and young children are being kept will be released within 48 hours and that reporters have only been allowed to see boys older than 10. Vox
The Government has no System for Reuniting Families
The Department of Homeland Security has not put in place any measures to reunify families after they are separated at the border. The New Yorker’s Jonathan Blitzer explained that ORR has no system in place to track children’s parents either aside from a 1-800 number that is inaccessible for parents who are in immigration detention or for those who have already been deported. Despite the recent surge in family separation following the formalizing of the “zero tolerance” policy, advocates have noticed children being separated at the border since last year and pressured DHS on the issue of reunification. The New Yorker
Mexico FM Slams U.S. for Separating Child with Down Syndrome from Parent
A 10-year-old child with down syndrome was separated from her mother and detained at the border due to the “zero tolerance” policy, the Mexican Foreign Affairs Minister Luis Videgaray said during a press conference. The girl’s father is a U.S. resident and Mexican officials are calling on the government to release her to her father. “We’re calling on the United States government, at the highest levels, to reconsider this policy and to prioritize the well-being and rights of girls and boys,” Videgaray said. The Mexican government has asked the U.N.’s Commission on Human Rights to monitor the situation. BuzzFeed News
Migrant Families Feeling Stranded at the Border
BuzzFeed News travelled to a migrant shelter in Reynosa, Mexico, where reporter Karla Zabludovsky spoke to families who are fearful of crossing the border due to the prospect of losing their child. Most are also fleeing gang violence, which Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently decided was no longer grounds to seek asylum. One woman said a U.S. border agent recommended that she turn around before entering American soil because “your kids will be taken from you.” BuzzFeed News
Members of Sessions’ Church Accuse him of Child Abuse
More than 600 members of the United Methodist Church accused Attorney General Sessions of child abuse for helping enforce the “zero tolerance” policy. The Rev. David Wright, a United Methodist clergyman from Washington State, said the group was compelled to act after Sessions quoted a bible verse to defend the policy. CBS News
Tech Workers Rebuke ICE
One hundred employees at Microsoft signed a letter posted on the company’s internal message board on Tuesday calling for an end to the company’s work with ICE. The letter was in reference to a $19.4 million contract that Microsoft has with ICE for processing data and artificial intelligence. Employees across Silicon Valley companies have expressed outrage at recent immigration policy, which has in turn led to several CEOs speaking out. The New York Times
- Trump and the Baby Snatchers, by Charles Blow, opinion columnist. The New York Times
- Trump is Using Children as Political Bargaining Chips. It Doesn’t get More Crassly Cynical, The Editorial Board. The Los Angeles Times
- The Guardian view on Donald Trump’s Immigration Policy: Hateful and Wrong, Editorial. The Guardian
Washington – Dems call for Nielsen to resign
Secretary of DHS Kirstjen Nielsen delivered a stunning defense of the government’s “zero tolerance” policy from the White House podium on Monday, which triggered a wave of backlash.
Nielsen was peppered with tough questions on the morality of the government’s policy, but she never wavered in her defense. Asked if the policy amounted to child abuse, the secretary said, “Be more specific, please.”
She later spoke at a conference for law enforcement officials where she offered another rallying cry in support of “zero tolerance,” and where she told the crowd that the administration “will not apologize” for enforcing the law.
Nielsen claims that the “zero tolerance” policy is merely enforcing laws that were ignored by previous administration, and that there is no child separation policy. However, multiple administration officials have stated, on the record, that the Trump administration intends to separate families to deter immigrants from coming to the U.S.
The backlash against Nielsen has been swift. Democratic members of congress have called on her to resign and she was shouted out of a Mexican restaurant during dinner Tuesday night. Protesters swarmed the restaurant and shouted: “Shame! Shame! Shame!”
However, Nielsen seems to have won over the support of the president who tweeted his support for Monday’s press conference. The two have had a reportedly tense relationship, which has pushed Nielsen to the brink of resignation. Reports say she privately has reservations about the viability of the policy.
Beyond DHS, the House will vote on two Republican–sponsored immigration bills that seem doomed to fail. One bill is supported by the GOP leadership, known as the compromise bill, while the other by the right-wing of the party. Democrats will not support either and the president sent mixed messages on which bill he supports during a meeting with members on Tuesday.
Most members of congress do seem to agree that family separation has to end — just not how to do so. Republicans have tried — and failed — to find a legislative solution while Democrats want the president to end the policy. The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, Vox, Politico