Governor Andrew Cuomo estimated on Thursday that 700 immigrant children who were forcibly separated from their parents at the Mexican border have been brought to New York, and are currently living in child service facilities throughout the state.
That figure does not come from the federal government—which has declined to make those numbers available—but from "piecemeal information" provided by individual foster agencies, according to the governor. It is a significantly higher total than previous estimates, which put the number of kids at around 70 just two days ago. Since then, several facilities in the New York metro area have confirmed that they are housing separated children, including East Harlem's Cayuga Center, which, as of Wednesday afternoon, was taking care of at least 239 kids.
.@SecAzar, New York needs to know: How many immigrant children are being housed in our state? Where are they?
The health and safety of these children are at stake, and it is imperative that you provide this information without delay. pic.twitter.com/X7fXZ1jwz1
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) June 21, 2018
On Thursday morning, dozens of children, ranging in age from about 5 to 11, were seen shielding their faces as they entered the Cayuga Center. An unknown number of children also arrived at LaGuardia on Wednesday evening, and were welcomed by hundreds of New Yorkers who'd spontaneously gathered to protest the president's zero tolerance immigration policy.
"The children arrived last night, the children arrived this morning, nothing has changed that will stop that from happening," Cuomo said Thursday. "I'm saying, in the interim as we're going through this federal fiasco, let's get the children the help they need."
The governor added that he's "exploring legal options" to get access to the children, and to help reunite them with their parents. Cuomo has also announced that New York is suing Trump, alleging the administration's zero tolerance policy is a violation of due process rights afforded to the detained parents and the children.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, meanwhile, traveled to the Texas border on Thursday along with more than a dozen other mayors, all of whom were turned away from a detained migrant children's facility. "The problem with the whole equation is there's no honesty from the federal government, no effort to openly tell people what's going on, and we have no reason to trust," he said outside the detention center.
On Wednesday, senior Trump officials said that the executive order signed by the president—which he claims will bring an end to the family separation policy—does not stipulate that the more than 2,300 children already taken from their families will be returned to them. It remains unclear whether the federal government has any plans for reuniting the separated kids with their families.