By Larry McShane, Emilie Ruscoe, and Khadija Hussain
City officials braced Friday for a new surge of migrant children coming to the city from the Mexican border — even as 100 were already reunited with their parents.
Local politicians were told “there will be a growing number of unaccompanied minors coming in,” said Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY) at a Harlem news conference.
“Anywhere where these children are … we’re going to be helping them,” he continued. “Maybe God sent them our way because we have a strong network of foster-care services. And we’re going to do the best we can as a city to send them back to their families as soon as possible.”
There have already been 100 children returned to their families since arriving at the Cayuga Centers facilities in Harlem, according to officials. Some politicians suggested a 20-day cap for releasing the kids back to the custody of their moms and dads.
Espaillat was joined by City Controller Scott Stringer, Public Advocate Leticia James, City Councilmember Mark Levine and state Assembly member Carmen De La Rosa.
“Trump’s immigration debate is a stain on America,” said Stringer. “But it’s clear from this meeting that it’s not going to be a stain on this city.”
At an earlier rally in the Bronx, an assortment of speakers — politicians, religious leaders and local activists — ripped into the administration’s divisive policy.
“It’s hard to say what I really feel because I would have to take to take off my (clerical) collar,” said Bishop Angelo Rosario, head of the Bronx Clergy Task Force. “(Trump) is possessed. He needs to be delivered.”
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.
On Thursday night, across the street from rows of garbage trucks parked under Metro-North train tracks, more than a hundred New Yorkers gathered for a silent vigil outside the headquarters of Cayuga Centers, a nonprofit foster care agency in Harlem.
Currently in the care of centers run by the agency in New York State are at least 239unaccompanied immigrant children who were separated from their parents at the southern U.S. border by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Holding signs with such slogans as “Reunite the children with their parents” and “We are disgusted and upset,” the demonstrators lit candles and arranged dozens of child-sized shoes on a blanket laid out on the sidewalk.
“We are here to protect the children who were placed in our community — unannounced, and without the consent of their parents — and to give them all the love that we can, by monitoring what is happening to them,” Queen Mother Dr. Delois Blakely, a local activist and honorary mayor of Harlem, told the Voice.
The vigil was among many mobilizations that were held in the city after news broke on Wednesday that, over the past few weeks, hundreds of unaccompanied immigrant children have been quietly sent to New York after being taken from their parents. Of an estimated 700 separated children in New York, some 350 have come through Cayuga Centers, one of several social service agencies in the state that the federal government contracts with to take in unaccompanied minors. According to Mayor de Blasio, these children include a nine-year-old boy from Honduras who traveled alone on a bus from Texas, as well as a nine-month-old baby.
Federal authorities never notified de Blasio that these children had arrived in New York. City officials only learned of the situation this week, after a relative of a Honduran child asked a friend to contact the mayor. City Hall still lacks critical information about the children being held in New York: exactly how many of them are here, their names and ages, their countries of origin, and the whereabouts of their parents. According to a spokesperson for City Councilmember Mark Levine, who represents the Harlem district where Cayuga Centers is located, the children are staying at various residential centers run by nonprofit agencies, including Cayuga, which is not itself a residential facility but provides daily social services for the children.
“How is the federal government holding back that information from the people of this city and holding back the help these kids could need?” De Blasio asked at a press conference on Wednesday.
“What will happen to these 300-plus kids in the next few months is a total unknown,” Councilmember Levine told the Voice. “It’s quite frightening. We have never dealt with a situation of this scale in our district. What’s arriving here today is really unprecedented for us.”Read more
El congresista Adriano Espaillat tiene planeado visitar el Centro Cayuga para realizar un chequeo de bienestar a los niños en sus instalaciones.
El legislador estará acompañado de otros funcionarios electos como la asambleísta de Manhattan, Carmen de la Rosa, y los concejales: Mark Levine y Diana Ayala.
La delegación quiere inspeccionar el albergue y verificar el estado de los niños que fueron separados de sus padres.
También pedirán más información sobre los detalles de su separación y posterior llegada a la ciudad.
Tras el recorrido, los funcionarios realizarán una conferencia de prensa para informar sobre sus observaciones.
Mientras tanto, el concejal Ydanis Rodríguez quiere que se deje de cubrir los rostros de los niños migrantes en cualquier centro de detención de la ciudad.
Rodríguez y otros líderes comunitarios planean reunirse, la tarde de este viernes, para pedir a los centros de detención que no cubran las caras de los menores cada vez que salgan a las calles.
Pues asegura que dicha práctica es una forma inhumana de tratar a los niños.
La protesta será frente al centro Cayuga, donde a mediados de semana descubrimos que se estaban llevando niños para albergarlos tras ser separados de sus familiares.
Mark Levine, a City Council member who represents sections of the Upper West Side and neighborhoods to the North, is accepting donations of items for the 239 children who were separated from the parents and taken to New York as part of President Trump’s immigration policy.
UPDATE: Levine’s staff tells me they’ve gotten an enormous influx of goods. and are now directing people to donate to the JCC Harlem. It will be open tonight between 6-9pm at 318 W 118th St, New York, NY 10026.
The children are being housed in East Harlem, and the city is also looking for Spanish-speaking foster parents for them.
Levine’s email is below:
President Trump’s apparent reversal today is an overdue but welcome retreat from a profoundly immoral policy of separating immigrant children from their families. But 239 children–some as young as 9 months old–are still stranded right here in New York City, thousands of miles away from their parents.
The East Harlem-based non-profit charged with caring for these children is in need of additional Spanish-speaking families to serve as foster homes. If you are interested in serving in this vital role please call the agency at 718-860-1656.
The Trump administration has announced no plans for when and how they will reunite the separated children with their families. But in the meantime, we want to make sure that the 239 kids in NYC do not want for material needs.
My office will therefore begin collecting donations of children’s clothing, diapers, and toys at our district office–located at 500 West 141st Street–beginning Thursday. Our office is open from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm and will be collecting contributions indefinitely. For more information, please call us at 212-928-6814.
Let’s not only show the world that New Yorkers reject the reprehensible immigration policies of this administration, but let’s also show these children the compassion and love they deserve but were cruelly denied.
Council Member Mark Levine
By Nicole Brown, Lisa L. Colangelo and Rajvi Desai
New Yorkers who were “heartbroken” by the news of children being separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border were eager to do what they could to help the ones that ended up in their neighborhoods.
“I feel like we failed as a society and now it’s our moral responsibility to take care of these kids and also figure out a plan to reunite them with their parents,” Ramya Lakshminarayan of Brooklyn said Thursday at Manhattan Councilman Mark Levine’s office, where donations were being collected.
Levine’s office began collecting items for the 239 children currently being served by an East Harlem foster care facility Thursday morning.
“There’s been an incredible outpouring of support,” Levine said. “New Yorkers are dropping off all sorts of clothing, diapers and other goods for young people. … People from almost every profession — lawyers who want to provide legal aid. We’ve had pediatricians call. We’ve had families offering to foster the children.”
The children at the Cayuga Center on Park Avenue are among thousands who have been separated from their parents as a result of President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy. Following a large public outcry, the president signed an executive order Wednesday to stop the separations. He also ordered agencies on Thursday to begin reuniting the families, but no timeline was provided.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, who was in Texas Thursday with other mayors to try to tour the Tornillo Migrant Children’s Facility and call for families to be reunited, said he found out Wednesday that hundreds of children had been brought to Cayuga since April. He did not know how many more children were at other centers across the city.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said his office estimates there are about 700 immigrant children placed in care agencies across the entire state.
Harlem resident Rich Herrera was at Levine’s office donating toys and stuffed animals.
“We are hearing about these kids being taken from their parents...kids that look like me, sound like me, look like my kid,” he said. “It’s heartbreaking, so we are just doing what we can.”Read more
City hospitals have treated 12 immigrant children who were taken from parents, including a suicidal child
Two city public hospitals have treated 12 young immigrant children who were separated from their parents at the border for physical and mental illnesses, Health and Hospitals CEO Mitchell Katz said Thursday.
The children were brought to the hospitals — four to Bellevue in Manhattan and eight to North Central Bronx Hospital — after being placed with foster parents by area social service organizations tasked with caring for the children, he said.
“There are undoubtedly many more, since our commitment is to serving people, not interrogating them about the circumstances that bring them to our facilities,” Katz said.
The children they have seen have presented with depression, anxiety, asthma, constipation and other ailments, city officials said. One was suicidal, Katz said, something he said did not surprise him given the circumstances.
“I don’t find that dramatic when I think about my own children, trying to imagine what it would have felt like to them to be separated from me forcibly,” he said.
Dr. Daran Kaufman, director of pediatric emergency services at North Central Bronx, said she and her clinicians have felt “helpless” in treating the children, who have generally arrived without medical records.
“Although we’ve been able to treat their medical diagnoses, they are sad, despondent, and we are unable to treat the emotional scars they are presenting with,” she said. “It’s very difficult for myself and my clinicians to be able to help them with these scars.”
Cayuga Centers in East Harlem is currently serving 239 children separated from their parents at the border due, according to the city, and is one of three providers who have federal contracts to do so in the city. The city was not notified by the federal government the children were being brought here from the border, though the organizations have for years served other immigrant children who cross the border alone.
When the local media began reporting on hundreds of immigrant kids separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border being detained in New York, Hastings-on-Hudson resident Kim Meisner said her Facebook feed went "crazy." “Everyone wanted to help, and saying what can I do?” So Meisner started a Facebook group, a place where the community could put their heads together. Within 24 hours of starting The Rivertowns Migrant Support Group, the page had 580 members.
But the group had one problem: They didn't know how to help. “In Hastings we have a great community of therapists, and translators, and people who could raise money and do extracurricular activities like art," said Meisner. "I wish we could go inside [the facilities the children were staying in]. That would be the dream, but it's not that easy."
But the Facebook group got some clarification on Thursday morning, when Hastings Mayor Peter Swiderski sent an email blast to residents telling them how they could help — send “welcome packets” to kids heading to Children’s Village, a facility that is currently holding an undisclosed number of immigrant children separated from their parents at the border. “It’s a fairly large number,” said the mayor.
What’s in a welcome packet? The mayor asked the community for “fun socks, journals, toys,” and other things that convey “you are welcome.”
Councilmember Mark Levine is trying something similar. He reached out to two other facilities with federal contracts – Cayuga Home for Children in New York City and Abbott House in Westchester, and asked what they needed. "They have younger kids [than Children’s village,] so they needed things like diapers and baby clothes.
“Within 24 Hours our offices were filled,” said Levine. Though he couldn’t take everything. “One woman offered frozen breast milk. We actually got a lot of inappropriate donations which we couldn’t take but conveyed how generous our community is." Levine said his office has enough donations for now, and if citizens want to give they should donate to groups which can provide immigrant families with direct services such as legal assistance.Read more
WASHINGTON HEIGHTS, NY — Tenants of a Washington Heights apartment complex rallied in front of their building Tuesday to denounce their landlord for pursuing a construction project they say will leave residents in unsafe conditions.
Residents of 600 W. 161st Street, a 10-story building located on the corner of Broadway, said they suffer continued abuses by their landlord Efstathios Valiotis and the managing agent Alma Realty. The latest abuse is a construction project Valiotis is undertaking that will downsize apartment units in order to bring the building into compliance with the city safety code, residents said.
The project, which will widen corridors to provide passage to a set of exterior fire stairs on the building's second through tenth floors, will result in the reconfiguration of 24 apartments, residents said. Residents instead want the city Department of Buildings to revoke their approval of the plan and force Valiotis to install fire escapes for tenants.
Tenants of 600 W. 161st St. were joined by Congressman Adriano Espaillat, City Councilman Mark Levine and State Senate hopeful Robert Jackson during their rally Tuesday. Espaillat pledged that his office would take up the cause of the tenants.
"This is my neighborhood where I grew up, and so I want to make sure that the tenants remain here, that they pay a legal rent, that they're not abuse, that they're not evicted and that they're not subjected to the predatory tactics that Alma Realty has subjected these tenants and a bunch of other tenants around the city of New York," Espaillat said Tuesday.
The holding company that owns the building, GVS Properties LLC, said in a statement that the construction project is more than halfway complete and is actually a benefit to building residents. The company said its plan is the "safest, quickest method" to bring the building in accordance with the city fire code and won't result in tenants being displaced.Read more
Uno de los grandes dolores de cabeza que tienen los residentes de Washington Heights, en Manhattan, es lograr encontrar un sitio para estacionar sus vehículos. La pesadilla para muchos puede tomar horas, hasta el punto en el que han decidido llamarse entre sí para asegurar el cupo de un vecino que vaya saliendo.
“Aquí no se encuentra dónde estacionar”, dijo Luis Rodríguez, un dominicano que tiene 45 años viviendo en esta zona del Alto Manhattan, mientras caminaba por la calle 169. “Cuando saco mi vehículo me toca dejarlo botado por allá lejos hasta que mis vecinos me digan que hay un espacio disponible”.
Así como Luis, muchos residentes se quejan y aseguran que la problemática radica en el alto número de vehículos con placas de otros estados que se estacionan en las calles de su barrio.
“Toda la gente que viene de Nueva Jersey y de Pensilvania a trabajar llenan los estacionamientos y no se encuentra dónde poner el vehículo”, apuntó Luis. “Encuentras placas de todas partes y los ve uno tomando el tren para downtown”.
Y para buscar una solución a esta situación, varios concejales presentaron el martes un plan que crearía espacios de estacionamiento “exclusivo para residentes del área”, propuesta que aunque para algunos vecinos parece ser la solución perfecta, ha sido vista con escepticismo por la Alcaldía.
“Ese sistema nos ayudaría mucho porque la gente que viene de otras partes debería estacionar en un sitio privado, no por aquí frente a nuestras casas”, comentó Mario Quesada, residente de Washington Heights, mientras hacía una rápida parada prohibida frente a un hidrante. “A veces uno se estaciona donde pueda y toca pedirle a alguien que le eche un ojo al carro mientras uno sube a buscar algo a la casa de rapidez”.
La propuesta, presentada por el concejal Ydanis Rodríguez, presidente del Comité de Transporte del Concejo Municipal, pretende reservar hasta el 80% de espacios de estacionamiento en algunos barrios para residentes que recibirían unos permisos, y declarar esos lugares fuera de los límites de conductores de otros estados y de los turistas. El concejal de Manhattan Mark Levine y Francisco Moya, de Queens, han patrocinado legislaciones similares par acrear permisos residenciales de estacionamiento en sus distritos.Read more