New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said today that he was “shocked” to discover that more than 200 of the more than 2,000 children recently detained separately from parents or guardians after crossing the southern border had been transported to the Big Apple.
President Trump today signed an order suspending the portion of the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy that separated children from parents at the border, including among those petitioning for asylum who didn’t use a port of entry.
“It is also the policy of this administration to maintain family unity, including by detaining alien families together where appropriate and consistent with law and available resources,” stated the order. “It is unfortunate that Congress’s failure to act and court orders have put the Administration in the position of separating alien families to effectively enforce the law.”
The Department of Homeland Security said this week that from May 5 thru June 9, 2,342 children were separated from 2,206 adults. There was no indication that Trump’s order included reuniting those already separated.
De Blasio told reporters today that he had just learned “how much this policy has now come home right here to New York City, and right here to this location” at the Cayuga Center in East Harlem.
The mayor said he discovered a 9-year-old named Eddie from Honduras “was sent here 2,000 miles on a bus to this location and does not know when he’s going to see his mother again.”
“This is one example, but here’s what I am shocked to have learned here today, there are now 239 children right here as a result of the Trump administration’s family separation policy,” he said. “…The folks here told us since the program began, over 350 children have been here, all because of the family separation policy of the Trump administration.”
“These children are across a whole range of ages, the youngest to come here they told us was nine months old. So we’re talking about children in some cases who literally can’t even communicate, have no idea what’s happening to them, no ability to be in touch with their families. These children are coming here and the professionals we met with made clear, that this has been a traumatic process for a lot of these kids. The mental health issues alone, they made clear to us, are very real, very painful.”
De Blasio said city health officials reported that “a number of kids have come with lice, have come with bedbugs, have come with chickenpox, physical diseases, and contagious situations that just make it worse for everyone else.”
He asked the federal government to “come clean with the truth.”
“Who are these children? How many are they? Where are they? What is happening here? How is it possible that none of us knew that there 239 kids right here in our city? How is the federal government holding back that information from the people of this city and holding back the help that these kids could need?” he said.
De Blasio slammed people making threats against workers at the center and said the NYPD “will be involved immediately to protect these social service workers who are trying to help these kids.”
“If someone disagrees with the Trump administration, direct your energy there, do not direct it against people who are trying to help the children and we’re going to make sure they are protected,” he added.
Of the federal government not notifying the city that immigrant detainee children were being bused up to NYC, the mayor said, “The bottom line is if the federal government wanted to work with this City and this State and the people of this city, they would have been transparent about this from the beginning. Clearly, this information was not provided on purpose and we had to go search for it.”