EAST HARLEM, NY — One hundred immigrant children taken to an East Harlem foster care facility after being taken to New York City from the southern border have been reunited with family members, city officials said after touring the facility Friday.
City, state and federal officials praised social workers at the Cayuga Centers of East Harlem who are trying to reunite children with family members as soon as possible. Of the 239 children taken to the facility, about 60 percent arrived at the border alone and 40 percent were separated from their families, Congressman Adriano Espaillat told reporters.
Cayuga Centers staff have been able to match many children with older siblings and connected family members because they arrived in New York City with identifying materials or contact information for relatives, officials said. There are 139 children who have not yet been matched with relatives and only two of those children have asked to be sent back to their countries of origin, Espaillat said.
Espaillat said that more than 600 children were taken to Cayuga Centers facilities in the city and the staff expects another "surge" of unaccompanied minors to arrive in the city.
City Comptroller Scott Stringer said that the Trump Administration's "zero tolerance" policy to separate children from their families at the border is a "stain on the United States, but it won't be a stain on our city." As long as unaccompanied children are being sent to New York City, officials and service providers will "meet and exceed" the challenge of taking proper care of them, Stringer said Friday.
City officials who toured the facility Friday urged the city to expedite the process for Spanish-speaking families attempting to register as foster families. Officials also urged New Yorkers to support organizations like the Cayuga Centers who are doing a "good job" of taking care of the kids sent to them. City Counilman Mark Levine stressed that the Cayuga Centers are "not complicit" in the separation of children from their families at the border and that people protesting the organization are "profoundly misguided."
"As long as kids are in New York City we need nonprofits like Cayuga to care for them," Levine said.
Children are being taken to New York from the southern border because the state has the largest network of foster care providers, New York City public advocate Letitia James said. The children at the Cayuga Centers facility in East Harlem do not sleep at the facility, but instead are being matched with foster parents, officials said. Not every child taken to the facility has been matched with a foster family, and it is unclear where those children sleep, James said.
The Cayuga Centers facility in East Harlem is providing daytime services to provide a "semblance of stability" for the children, most of whom have experienced a great deal of trauma since their detention at the border, officials said. Officials also announce that "buffer zones" will be established at each Cayuga Centers facility in New York to protect the children's privacy.
City officials learned that unaccompanied minors were being taken to the East Harlem facility on Wednesday. Children were seen being led to the East Harlem foster care facility early Wednesday morning by New York 1 reporter Josh Robin. Robin reports that he received a tip that the facility was being used to house unaccompanied minors from the southern border and that he waited by the facility until nearly 1 a.m. Wednesday.
Nearly a third of the immigrant children separated from their familiesat the southern U.S. border have been sent hundreds of miles away to New York, according to a new state estimate.
About 700 kids taken from their parents under the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy toward illegal border crossings are currently in the state, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday — 10 times as many as initially thought. Those children are among more than 2,300 reportedly swept up in the policy calling for the prosecution of anyone caught crossing the border illegally, which federal officials have moderated since news of the situation spurred public outrage.