Elected officials in Westchester took a tour of one of the four facilities in the county housing immigrant children who have been separated from their families as part of President Donald Trump administration’s recently rescinded policy regarding issues at the Mexican border.
Members of Congress, including Rep. Eliot Engel, Gregory Meeks, Nita Lowey, Grace Meng and Blunt Rochester were on hand for a tour of Children’s Village in Dobbs Ferry, which is the home to more than 300 migrant children who have been separated from their families.
Following her tour of Children’s Village, Lowey issued a lengthy statement lambasting the Trump administration and its policies regarding the migrant children.
“Shelters like Children’s Village provide vital services for vulnerable children, but the Trump Administration’s decision to put 2,000 miles between children and their families will make it much harder for families to be reunited quickly. Worse, the Administration has presented no realistic plan to reunite families, and has shown no urgency in addressing this crisis.”
Although Trump has since reversed course, signing an executive order to end the policy this week amid a national backlash, Jeremy Kohomban, who runs Children’s Village, has sought to set the record straight in regards to his organization.
“As you may be aware, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Tuesday that Children’s Village is housing immigrant children who have been separated from their parents,” he wrote in an email to Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner. “A small number of older children have been placed with us as part of the Unidos por un Sueno (United for a Dream) program that Children’s Village has been proud to provide since 2004.
“These children are being cared for in the same manner as we care for all of the children in the program. The focus of the US program is to reunify children with their families, not to separate them. We pride ourselves on that, and it will continue to be our primary objective for all children who enter the program.”
Lowey noted that she is “doing all (she) can to prevent the Trump administration’s cruel policies and reunite families.”
“As the Ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, I am working to ensure that the Department of Health and Human Services is meeting the health needs of these children and has the direction and resources to send children from shelters to the care of a loved one, which is in the best interest of the child as well as the taxpayers.
“This past week, the Appropriations Committee was supposed to debate a bill that would fund HHS, including the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which manages the care and potential reunification of children. At the bill’s markup, a number of amendments were to be offered that would have forced the Administration to release a plan to address family reunification, and provide reports on the care of children, their contact with parents, and more.
“Unfortunately, rather than debate these amendments in public, House Republican Leadership decided to cancel the markup, for the second time in a week, to avoid this debate.”
In her statement, Lowey went on to say that the president’s administration’s “ abdication of leadership and lack of urgency proves they have no plan to address this crisis of their own making, and House Republicans are letting them off the hook.”
“Intentionally traumatizing children by using them as bargaining chips for a wasteful border wall is a shameful chapter in our nation’s history. And make no mistake: there will be lasting consequences of the Administration’s cruelty– for these children, for their families, and for the reputation of our nation. It is imperative that these misdeeds are rectified without delay so children and their family members can begin to heal from the Administration’s unconscionable policies.”
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