More than 350 migrant kids — as young as 9 months old — have been sent to a single Harlem foster care provider since the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy on separating children from parents at the border began, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday.
“Over 350 children have been here, all because of the family separation policy of the Trump administration,” de Blasio said outside the Cayuga Center facility on Park Avenue and 131st Street.
“The youngest to come here, they told us, was 9 months old. We’re talking about children, in some cases, who can’t even communicate, have no idea what’s happening to them, no ability to be in touch with their families.”
Some 239 kids, mostly from Guatemala, were inside the center on Wednesday afternoon when the mayor visited for an hour, he said
The kids come to the agency for school in the day, and live at foster homes at night, he added.
The youngsters arrive riddled with lice, bed bugs and chicken pox from the immigration detention facilities they were held in before being bused to the Big Apple, and are also suffering trauma from the separation, de Blasio says the workers there told him.
“Imagine for any of us if we were ripped away from our parents and sent thousands of miles away with no one we knew. These kids are suffering from that and they need mental health support.”
He said Cayuga workers have received threats over the situation — and urged people to direct their ire at the Trump administration rather than the people who “are trying to help the children.”
It’s still unclear how many other kids who’ve been taken from their moms and dads are in the city.
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said Wednesday that Catholic Guardian Services and Lutheran Social Services of New York are caring for other separated kids in his borough — but didn’t say exactly where or how many.
De Blasio demanded the federal government provide figures.
“Come clean with the truth. Who are these children? How many are there? Where are they?” he said.
Amid the mounting controversy, President Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order to allow kids to stay with their parents after they’ve been caught crossing the border — but de Blasio said he also needs to commit to reuniting the families who’ve already been separated.
“All of us have to create the pressure on this administration to not just sign the paper but reunite the families,” he said.
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