There are about 700 children in New York who were separated from their parents at the United States-Mexico border as a result of the “zero-tolerance” policy, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Thursday.
The Governor traveled with The New York Times to one of the centers where children were being held. Meanwhile, Mayor Bill de Blasio travelled to the border with a coalition of mayors in order to visit the Tornillo Migrant Children’s Facility, but he was denied entry.
Dramatic scenes unfolded on Wednesday after NY1 recorded footage overnight of young children being brought into a building run by Cayuga Centers, one of the ten agencies which has a contract with the federal government to house minors who arrive at the border alone.
The footage sparked a wave of outrage that culminated in the mayor visiting the East Harlem facility and revealing that there are 239 children who were separated from their families at the center. The city had no prior knowledge of their presence, De Blasio said.
Later on, reports surfaced in The New York Times that more children were arriving at LaGuardia Airport carrying plastic bags that said “DHS” on them. Protestors flocked to the airport where they held out banners and sang protest songs in anticipation of the arrival of more children.
At least a dozen of the children have been brought to the city’s public hospital for treatment, Dr. Mitchell Katz CEO of NYC Health & Hospitals told reporters.
Protestors occupy ICE field office
Dozens of children – including infants, toddlers and preteens – occupied the hallway of New York City’s Immigration Customs and Enforcement Field Office in lower Manhattan with their parents on Thursday. The group demanded an end to child separation of immigrant families. “We are here today with our babies and families because we could not sit by and do nothing!” the parents chanted, filling a ninth floor hallway at 26 Federal Plaza. Homeland Security did not move to shut down the 30 minute action, which parents had organized in less than two days by word of mouth, according to organizers. Mothers pushing strollers entered the building in small groups, passing through security and singing rounds of “Woke Up This Morning” when they converged upstairs. ICE did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Emma Whitford for Documented
Trump attempts to quell critics with new executive order
The president signed an executive order on Wednesday which he claimed would bring an end to the separation of children from their parents at the border. The order maintains the “zero-tolerance” policy of criminally prosecuting every migrant who crosses the border illegally. But it states families will remain together in detention while parents undergo prosecution.
The order will require a radical expansion of the number of family detention centers. The Pentagon has agreed to provide room for up to 20,000 migrant children, similar to a 2014 decision to provide 7,000 beds to the Obama administration.
The entire family will now remain in ICE custody. However, due to a consent decree known as the Flores settlement, the government can not hold immigrant families together in detention for longer than 20 days. The Trump administration has requested the courts amend the consent decree to allow families to be held in detention together for longer.
That decision now rests with Judge Dolly Gee.
For the more than 2,000 children who have been separated from their parents, it remains unclear how they will reunite with their families. A spokesperson for Health and Human Services originally told BuzzFeed News there would be no changes for them, before the statement was later amended. A senior Trump administration official told the Associated Press 500 children had been reunited with their parents.
An investigation by Reveal showed the contractors the government chose to house unaccompanied minors in have a checkered history of abuse.
Several airlines put out statements saying that they would no longer transport children who have been separated from their parents. The Daily Beast revealed that ICE has been paying an intelligence contractor, MVM, to transport the children on these flights. However, MVM told The Daily Beast it “hasn’t pursued any new contracts” since the “zero-tolerance” policy began.
The Heartbreaking Case Of The Three-Year-Old Boy In Immigration Court, BuzzFeed News
Virginia Governor Orders Probe Into Detention Center
State officials were ordered by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam on Thursday to investigate allegations of abuse by immigrant children at a detention center. A federal civil rights lawsuit alleges systemic abuse at Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center. The suit alleges multiple violent incidents between Latino children and the staff. The children also allege the guards would taunt them with racist epithets such as “wetback” and ″onion head.” The Associated Press
- I won’t work flights that separate immigrant kids from families, by Hunt Palmquist, a flight attendant based in Dallas. Houston Chronicle
- Separating Migrant Families Is Barbaric. It’s Also What the U.S. Has Been Doing to People of Color for Hundreds of Years, by Shaun King, columnist. The Intercept
- Trumpism, Realized, by Adam Skewer, senior editor. The Atlantic
Washington – House immigration bills fail
The so-called compromise immigration bill proved to be not conciliatory enough as Speaker Paul Ryan delayed a highly anticipated vote on it on Thursday, after fearing a lack of support.
A more conservative bill was defeated on the house floor with a vote of 193-231. The bill was seen as doomed from the start as several Republican representatives did not support it.
The first lady confused onlookers on Thursday when she wore a jacket that said, “I really don’t care. Do U?” as she boarded a plane en route to visit child detention centers at the border. The Guardian