Eight children who were separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border last month as part of the Trump administration's zero tolerance policy have been moved to a private shelter on Long Island, Newsday reports.
The children range in age from 6 to 12 years old, and are mostly from Central American countries, including Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. They were reportedly moved here not because of family connections in the region, but because the federal government is in desperate need of beds to house the children of parents they've detained. Between April 19th and May 31st, ICE agents separated around 2,000 kids from their families at the southern border, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
The eight children who ended up in Long Island are staying at the Syosset-based MercyFirst group homes run by the Sisters of Mercy. Gerard McCaffery, president and CEO of the group, confirmed to Newsday that they are the only Long Island-based agency to have a contract with the federal government. Earlier this morning, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services confirmed that some children are also being held without their families in New York City—though the spokesperson would not say where those children are located.
The kids in Long Island are attending school at the agency's Syosset campus temporarily. Some of them may soon have local sponsors, but "everything is delayed because they have overwhelmed the system," according to New York Immigration Coalition policy director Anu Joshi.
Placed in facilities more than 2,000 miles from where they last saw their parents, the young children are struggling. "Kids are very resilient but it doesn’t take much for a kid to start crying and miss his mom," McCaffery told the newspaper. Yesterday, ProPublica obtained audio from inside a U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility, in which several Central American children can be heard sobbing as a CBP agent mocks them.
Meanwhile, ICE agents in New York City are now reportedly imitating detectives and other law enforcement officials in order to detain and deport local immigrants.