Mayor Bill de Blasio and other mayors from cities across the country were turned away when they attempted to visit a holding center for immigrant children in Texas on Thursday.
The New York City mayor traveled to Tornillo, Texas, on Wednesday after touring a foster care facility in Harlem at which more than 200 immigrant children separated from their parents at the southern border are currently being housed.
“Sir, to my knowledge everyone is unavailable” – border agent to Mayor when he asks to speak to someone about checking on the detained kids – many of whom could end up in New York City. pic.twitter.com/InYYRYTLfi
— Eric Phillips (@EricFPhillips) June 21, 2018
The trip to Texas was organized by the United States Conference of Mayors to protest the Trump administration’s family separation policy. President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday afternoon that would end family separation by instead detaining children and parents together indefinitely; officials did not explain what the order would do for the children currently separated from their families and in holding facilities.
“The fact is this is our federal government denying access, not allowing information — and it’s not American, it’s crazy,” de Blasio said after being turned away from the Tornillo Migrant Facility. “How on Earth are we not allowed to see what is happening to these children?”
New York City first lady Chirlane McCray on Thursday visited Bellevue Hospital with other experts to talk about the physical and mental trauma that family separation could impart on these migrant children.
Government leaders should not be in the business of separating children from their parents. Every parent, every expert, every health care professional knows that this can cause irreparable harm to these children. pic.twitter.com/3rMuu6hbfN
— Chirlane McCray (@NYCFirstLady) June 21, 2018
At least 12 children have been brought to New York City’s public hospitals already, officials said, because of such health issues. These children were brought in by foster families. New York City will work with foster homes and other providers to give care to the children that were sent here.
After touring East Harlem’s Cayuga Center, an agency that places kids in foster care, de Blasio said that he was shocked to learn that there are now 239 children in New York City as a result of the Trump administration’s family separation policy.
“We had gotten no notification from the U.S. government that children were being sent there from 2,000 miles away, separated from their parents, sent to some place they didn’t know, no connection to,” he told Poppy Harlow on CNN.
“The folks who work there were trying their best to help these kids and I admire — kids are so strong and resilient but here’s the problem, they’re experiencing mental health challenges and trauma because of the separation,” he added. “There’s also physical health challenges. The health workers there were telling us these kids, because they were held in group facilities when they came across the border, some have lice, some have bed bugs, chickenpox, all sorts of contagious situations.”