Over the past seven months, the New York Post has repeatedly misconstrued and framed the transportation of migrant children from the border to a shelter in Westchester County, New York, as a clandestine operation.
These reports, published last October, in January this year, and a couple of weeks ago this month, falsely suggest the federal government carries out the activity in secret. The reports also leave out critical information about why migrant children are transported from the U.S. border to New York state — something that is no secret.
This summary was featured in Documented’s Early Arrival newsletter. You can subscribe to receive it in your inbox three times per week here.
A structured and legal process: When unaccompanied minors arrive at the border, two constitutional provisions require they are screened within 48 hours of apprehension, and referred to the Office of Refugee Resettlement within 72 hours.
To avoid leaving children in the cages of Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention as they await a court hearing, ORR contracts with child welfare agencies in several states to place children in the “least restrictive setting possible.” It identifies wherever a bed is available in any state, and then quickly transfers children there by air.
“This system is how it has worked for years and years, and I recognize that some elements of the media kind of latch on to it as some kind of ridiculous dog whistle,” explains Alexandra Rizio, a managing attorney at Safe Passage Project, which connects lawyers to immigrant and refugee children. “But there’s nothing in and of itself untoward about kids being transferred.”
ORR’s ultimate goal is to reunite the children with their family and friends. When a sponsor becomes available, ORR conducts background checks, releases the child, then contacts organizations like Safe Passage Project to help secure children free legal representation.
An alarming implication: Leaving out all of this information while addressing the transportation of migrants from the border paints an inaccurate picture of routine, legal government processes.
Still: It is unclear why some of the flights are conducted at night, or why transportation of migrant children to Westchester County briefly stopped and later resumed. One possibility, a source told Documented, is that the beds in the Westchester facility the ORR contracts with were temporarily filled.
Documented reached out to the Westchester-based facility, Children’s Village, which has been in contract with the federal government to house migrant children for years. We were told “questions about the immigration program at The Children’s Village must be first posed to ORR.” There was no response at the time of publication.
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