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Somers' Lincoln Hall May House Refugee Children

SOMERS, N.Y. – Lincoln Hall School for Boys in Somers is in negotiations with the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) to become a facility for unaccompanied alien minors, Supervisor Mary Beth Murphy has confirmed.

”I was told this week that Lincoln Hall will no longer be accepting juvenile delinquents from New York City and is in discussion with the ORR,” she said.

“Children’s Village in Dobbs Ferry is a current ORR provider," Murphy said. "The police chief there tells me that the refugee program is not an issue for them, that the youths want to be there and that they don’t run away.”

The ORR operates under auspices of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families. It began shortly after World War II with the Displaced Persons Act of 1948. The first refugees were displaced Europeans, and later people fleeing Communism in Europe, Asia and Cuba. Then came refugees from authoritarian regimes in Africa and elsewhere.

The ORR Mission statement says: “Founded on the belief that newly arriving populations have inherent capabilities when given opportunities, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) provides people in need with critical resources to assist them in becoming integrated members of American society.”

Among the types of refugees served by the ORR are unaccompanied alien children, asylum seekers, Amerasians and survivors of torture.

Kenneth Wolfe, deputy director of the Office of Public Affairs for the Administration for Children and Families, said by telephone, “We don’t identify specific facilities, but I can tell you about the program that is being discussed with the supervisor.

“Any time a child is in the United States illegally, without parent or guardian, the Customs or other law enforcement agency turns the child over to us for care. We usually keep them about two months, while they are awaiting the next step. The next step is usually unification with the child’s family.

“Most of the boys are from Guatamala, El Salvador, Honduras and, to a lesser extent, Mexico," said Wolfe. They’re almost always teenagers, 12- to 17-year-old males. "We don’t know how they get here. We’re in the middle. Usually they’re picked up at the border, sometimes in New York. They’re turned over to us, and we have several facilities where we send them," he said.

Wolfe concluded, “These are not violent or dangerous children. They’re in foster care with the ORR and they’re awaiting the next step. Usually, they go back home.”

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