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Family separation: About 100 immigrant children still in NYC, mayor says

Thursday marks the court-ordered deadline for the federal government to reunite 2,500 children who were separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The Cayuga Center in East Harlem is caring

The Cayuga Center in East Harlem is caring for children separated from their families at the United States-Mexico border. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Drew Angerer

Roughly 100 immigrant children who were separated from their parents at the United States-Mexico border are still in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Thursday.

Social service providers told the mayor’s office that about 200 children who were sent to New York City after being taken from their parents at the southern border have been moved out of the city by the federal government, de Blasio said. It was unclear if those children were reunited with their families or moved to another facility elsewhere in the country.

On June 20, the mayor had visited the Cayuga Centers foster care facility in East Harlem after discovering that separated immigrant children were being cared for there. At the time, de Blasio said there were about 300 separated children being cared for at facilities in the city.

The parents of the 100 children who remain in the city could possibly have been deported, according to the mayor.

Thursday marks the court-ordered deadline for the federal government to reunite 2,500 children who were separated from their parents under President Donald Trump’s since-rescinded “zero-tolerance” immigration policy.

While the federal government scrambles to meet the deadline, lawyers and immigration advocates have voiced concerns over miscommunication and a lack of coordination as children are moved from facilities around the country to detention centers in the southwest, where many of the parents were held.

“We’re seeing some kids swept away in the middle of the night to be reunified,” said Anthony Enriquez of Catholic Charities of New York, which represents some of the affected children.

Maria Odom, vice president of legal services for Kids in Need of Defense, said two children who were represented by the group were sent from New York to Texas to be reunited with their mother. When they arrived, they learned their mother had already been deported, Odom told reporters during a conference call.

Odom said her group cannot find the children, aged 9 and 14. It was an example, she said, "of how impossible it is to track these children once they are placed in the black hole of reunification."

Earlier this week, government attorneys told a federal judge in San Diego who had ordered the reunifications that 917 parents who were parted from their children have already been deported, waived reunification or have criminal backgrounds — all of which prevent a prompt reunification.

As of Monday, officials said they had brought together 879 parents with their children and identified 1,634 parents possibly eligible for reunification. The government was scheduled to update its figures late on Thursday and report to the judge on Friday.

Sensing that the government would not meet its deadline, two New York lawmakers unveiled legislation on Wednesday that would require state-contracted facilities caring for separated immigrant children, such as the Cayuga Centers in East Harlem, to file public reports on their activity every 15 days. However, the legislation won’t be considered until the State Legislature convenes next year.

With Reuters

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