New York Officials Struggle to Find Immigrant Children Separated From Their Families

Trump’s recent executive order, prohibiting immigrant children from being separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexican border, has already been put into effect.

There have been reports of hundreds of said children being sent to New York and subsequently being taken in by consular officials from Central American countries. However, it is also believed that the officials have struggled to keep track of all the children after the order’s signing, as they were not given much information prior to the children’s arrival.

Consul general of El Salvador, Jose Vicente Chinchilla, stated that he was not even aware that children were going to be sheltered in New York.

He stated: “To be honest, I don’t have a number [of children].”

He further explained that federal authorities from the Office of Refugee Resettlement have failed to keep up communication with consular officials for further information and instructions. On Wednesday night, the officials found themselves having to shelter over 300 children sent to their city. The commissioner of Immigrant Affairs for New York stated that her department had a similar experience and was left to act quickly and without preparation.

This is causing a growing sense of distrust between New York authorities and the federal government. Officials and individuals responsible for the children’s shelter have had to work in crisis mode, as they also realized that babies as young as 9 months old had not been tracked by federal authorities and needed to be searched for.

Lidice Gonzalez, the consul for Honduras, has stated that she reached out to authorities with several questions through emails regarding several eight-year-old children. Their location, their names, and their ages are all still uncertain. These are vital pieces of information with regards to properly identifying the children.

The majority of the children sent to New York are believed to be from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

It is believed that the children have been sent to New York throughout the past two months and have been in the care of social service agencies related to the federal government. Authorities were notified of this situation after a friend of one of the children’s relatives contacted Mayor Bill DeBlasio, who later stated that 350 children had been sheltered in the Caguya Centers in Harlem. Consul general Chinchilla has stated that he has reached out to these agencies and that they will work together to find and identify the children.

The Trump Administration’s recent decision has been quite controversial, as the order specified nothing about procedures regarding the children who have already been separated, which caused a problem for many officials such as those in New York.

The order now orders entire families to be detained in border facilities. This executive order comes after several days filled with criticism of the Trump Administration’s policies. This criticism was not eased by the actions of its officials during press briefings. Outrage only increased after video and audio recordings of undocumented children surfaced online. The heartbreaking videos showed children being held in cages during the first days of the separation, and the audio featured children crying and calling out for their parents.

Many have questioned Trump’s intentions behind the recent signing, as he was only willing to take action after massive amounts of public criticism hurt his administration’s reputation. This belief gained more validity when taking into account that he said during the signing that he “like the sight or the feeling of families being separated,” which focuses more on the public’s reaction to the previous measure than on the morality of the measure itself. It also marked a significant departure from his previous approach, as he had adamantly defended the separation process and said that he could do nothing about it.

 

Featured Image via Wikimedia Commons

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