Protesters marched silently outside of an East Harlem foster care facility on Tuesday where undocumented immigrant children who were separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border are still being cared for.
The activists and community members joined together outside of the Cayuga Centers facility on Park Avenue around 11 a.m. in a show of support for the families reeling from the ramifications of the Trump administration’s since-revoked “zero-tolerance” immigration policy.
"It’s not right; families are being ripped apart,” Jamie Harrison, of East Harlem, said. “They’re coming into this country to seek solidarity and freedom, and instead we’re giving them the opposite. This needs to change."
The march, known as a Jericho Walk, was organized by the immigration advocacy group New Sanctuary Coalition. The protest began with participants walking around the block three times, each time stopping in front of the Cayuga Centers to silently say the Jericho Prayer with an arm raised. On the last time around, the group of about 20 people said the prayer aloud together.
East Harlem resident Amber Artega said she heard about the Jericho Walk from a friend.
"I saw how sad it was for children to be ripped and separated from their families,” Artega said. “I’m really here to stand in solidarity, with hope that these children are reunited again.”
Despite a court order for the Trump administration to reunite all 2,600 separated children by July, the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs said there were still about 40 children being cared for by New York City service providers in September.
New York Assemb. Harvey Epstein, whose district includes most of Manhattan’s East Side, said he was at the Cayuga Centers last week helping an anguished woman who hasn’t been reunited with her child because she needs to prove she’s the mother.
“We need to do something here in New York for these vulnerable children who are struggling,” Epstein said outside of the facility before the Jericho Walk on Tuesday. “We are a sanctuary city, and these families and children are put through a difficult time.”
In June, at the height of controversy over the policy, it was revealed that the federal government had sent about 300 undocumented immigrant children to New York City without telling city officials. An outraged Mayor Bill de Blasio visited the Cayuga Centers to ensure the children were being well cared for and pledged to help them anyway he could.
When the July reunification deadline arrived, de Blasio said 100 children were still being cared for in the city and suggested that some of the parents could have been deported by the federal government.