Sen. Bob Menendez at a rally in support of immigrant families separated at the border.

Sonia Rincon/1010 WINS

Tri-State Officials, Faith Leaders Keep Spotlight On Immigrant Children

June 22, 2018 - 11:53 am

NEW YORK (1010 WINS/AP) -- How immigration officials and prosecutors deal with undocumented migrant families crossing the Mexican border still seems to be a policy in flux.

President Donald Trump will speak about immigration at a White House event with so-called angel families, people who have lost relatives due to the actions of undocumented immigrants. This comes two days after the president signed an executive order ending the family separations at the border.

A senior Trump administration official said that about 500 of the more than 2,300 children taken from their families at the border in recent weeks have been reunited since May.

Federal agencies are working to set up a centralized reunification process for all remaining children at a detention center on the Texas side of the border, said the official, who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Governor Cuomo figures about 700 of the separated children wound up in foster care facilities in New York. He said the federal government didn't tell the state about it and the state is now canvassing foster care agencies to find out who they have.

The governor said the agencies must cooperate or risk fines and license suspension.

Mayor Bill de Blasio discovered that 239 children were placed in a facility in Harlem.

He spoke with Fox 5 about them and what the city is doing to help.

"The kids, the ones who came up, 239 in this one center alone, again, the legal support to get them reunified with their parents, we're making sure they get the mental health care and the physical health care they need," he said.

Cuomo visited with some children at a detention facility in the New York area and said they're in rough shape.

"I brought a mental health professional with me who was shocked at the condition of many of these children. They need serious, significant, psychological assistance," he said, "This can be a life scarring episode."

The Pentagon is making space at military facilities to house up to 20,000 undocumented migrant children who crossed the border without their families. Health and Human Services will provide food, clothing, medical, and other services.

A series of rallies and vigils kept the spotlight on the plight of the children. Faith leaders and politicians came together outside the detention center in Elizabeth on Friday morning.

"The America we know doesn't treat families fleeing from criminals as if they themselves were criminals," Sen. Bob Menendez said.

Menendez shared a phone call with an asylum seeker named Mario who was worried about his daughter separated from her mother at the border.

New Jersey faith leaders like Imam Mohammad Qatanani and Presbyterian Pastor Michael Grandsen condemned the measure.

"This is not America brothers and sisters to see children in these camps," Qatanani said.

Menendez said he and his senate colleagues will demand answers from the president on how the families will be reunited, something he said the executive order does not address.

A House vote on the so-called compromise immigration package was supposed to happen Friday, but has been pushed back another week.