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Early Arrival: Flights of Migrant Children to New York are Completely Legal

Plus: Shifting immigration patterns and an aging workforce create a crisis at legacy Chinatown dim sum restaurants

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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STORIES WE ARE FOLLOWING 

New York

Shifting immigration patterns, aging workforce create crisis at legacy dim sum restaurants: Chinatown dim sum restaurant Jing Fong has long relied on chefs who were trained in China and emigrated to the U.S. In recent years, the talent pool has shrunk. — Eater

Around the U.S. 

100+ organizations push for federally funded legal representation for anyone facing deportation: The groups want to see a public defender system for everyone who navigates the complexities of immigration law while facing well-resourced government prosecutors. — Read more

Texas soldier drowns while rescuing migrants: Lt. Christopher Olivarez of the Texas Department of Public Safety said river currents have resulted in at least 10 drownings this past week alone. — The Washington Post

How football helped immigrant brothers embrace being different: Two West African brothers share how their mother fled war in Guinea and their paths to the NFL. — AP News

Washington D.C.

DHS releases 20-page plan border to lift Title 42 in May: The plan includes six measures, including expanding migrant processing capacity and increasing resources for border personnel. — Read here

Biden admin. plans to put some deportation cases on hold: The effort seems targeted at reducing the backlog of over 1 million deportation cases, which has made some immigrants wait years for a hearing. — BuzzFeed News

House bill explores creation of Asian Pacific American History museum: The bill now heads to the Senate. If approved, the commission would study the costs involved with the proposed museum and possible locations in Washington D.C. — StarTribune

Supreme Court hears Remain in Mexico arguments: Questions from justices suggested Biden may be allowed to end the “Remain in Mexico” policy. They also questioned Texas’ attempt to constrain federal authority. — AP News 

Biden and aides discuss Title 42, immigration with Congressional Hispanic Caucus: Biden asked to double the budget of USCIS’ family reunification work, and signaled openness to extending TPS for some Central American countries. — CBS News

SEE MORE STORIES
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