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Some Migrant Kids Separated From Parents In Westchester, Cuomo Says

Andrew Cuomo
Andrew Cuomo Photo Credit: Contributed

Some migrant children who were separated from their parents at the border of the United States and Mexico are being housed in shelters in Westchester County, according to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

“We have about 10 facilities in this state. We haven’t spoken with all of them. We know there are over 70 children, just by the ones that we have talked about but they are in Dobbs Ferry, Lincolndale, Irvington, three in the Bronx, one in Syosset and one in Kingston,” Cuomo said during a conference call on Tuesday when he announced his intention to sue the federal government over the treatment of the kids.

Many of the children are being housed at Children’s Village in Dobbs Ferry, which, according to its website, “works in partnership with families to help society’s most vulnerable children so that they become educationally proficient, economically productive, and socially responsible members of their communities.”

New York's multi-agency lawsuit against the Trump Administration is being filed on the grounds that the federal government is violating the Constitutional rights of thousands of immigrant children and their parents who have been separated at the border, unless the policy is not rescinded in the next two weeks, Cuomo said.

"The Trump Administration's policy to tear apart families is a moral failing and a human tragedy," Cuomo said. "We will not tolerate the Constitutional rights of children and their parents being violated by our federal government.  New York will act and file suit to end this callous and deliberate attack on immigrant communities, and end this heartless policy once and for all.”

Cuomo noted that they know of more than 70 children who are staying in federal shelters in New York State, with more expected to come, as other facilities are contacted. In response, Cuomo said he is directing the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, the Department of Health and the Office of Children and Family Services to commence legal action against the federal government's "Separation of Families" policy.

“Since the zero-tolerance policy has been put in place, these children have been sent to these facilities under the federal government’s UAC program, unaccompanied alien child — except they’re not unaccompanied alien children. They were accompanied.”

"It is outrageous that some children being separated from their parents on the border are being held right here in Westchester, in this Senate District in fact," former Westchester County Board of Legislators Majority Leader and current Democratic NYS Senate District 40 candidate Peter Harckham said in a statement. "This scurrilous policy is not in keeping with Hudson Valley Values, not in keeping with American Values."

According to Cuomo, New York plans to sue the federal government for “violating the constitutional rights of children and families, violating the terms of the Flores Settlement, callous policies based on outrageous government conduct doctrine and on behalf of the Liberty Defense Project.”

“As everyone knows, the federal government, under the Department of Justice, changed their policy on April 7 to the ‘zero tolerance’ policy where they are now separating children at the border and I believe, personally, that the act is inhumane, it's extortive, it's un-American,” Cuomo added. “Ironically, it's opposed to the family value that the Republican party has always espoused. I believe it's politically motivated and they're being used, the children are being used, basically as a bargaining chip with Congress to get what the administration wants.

“I've never seen children being used as a bargaining chip in this kind of negotiation. The estimate is that 2,000 children are being held. Some of those children are being held in facilities in the State of New York. These are private facilities that provide services to children and the federal government has contracted with a number of facilities in New York and placed children in those facilities.

“So politics aside, philosophy aside, children have legal rights. Parents have legal rights. That's established firmly in the federal and state constitutions and in case law. They have fundamental rights. They apply whether they're documented, undocumented, short, tall, Mexican, seeking asylum, or not seeking asylum. Those fundamental rights apply and we believe they've been violated.”

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