At least 106 immigrant children are being housed in New York state shelters that have contracts with the federal government.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio meets with officials from Cayuga Centers in East Harlem, where several immigrant children who have been separated from their families at the border are staying. (Benjamin Kanter/Mayoral Photo Office)

More than 200 immigrant children who have been separated from their parents at the southern U.S. border are being housed in a shelter in East Harlem, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Wednesday afternoon. 

"Here’s what I am shocked to have learned here today: There are now 239 children right here as a result of the Trump administration’s family separation policy," the mayor said outside Cayuga Centers. "This is just one of the centers in New York City. Since the program began, over 350 children have been here."

The immigrant children range in age, the mayor said, with the youngest being just 9-months-old, and Cayuga Center staff "made clear it’s been a traumatic process for a lot of these kids, and the mental health issues alone are very real, very painful. These kids are suffering from that, and they need mental health support," de Blasio added. 

In additon to the trauma of being separated from their families due to the Trump administration's "zero-tolerance policy" of illegal entry, which Attorney General Jeff Sessions began in April, these immigrant children also came to Cayuga Centers with physical trauma from being held in detention, de Blasio said, adding that some suffer from lice, chicken pox, bed bugs and other contagious conditions.

 

According to a tweet from his press secretary, de Blasio and other mayors from across the country will travel to the border town of Tornillo, Texas, on Wednesday night to try to gain access to a detention facility Thursday morning. 

NY1 first reported Tuesday night that immigrant children arrived in the dead of night to the East Harlem facility, one of nine agencies that has a federal contract to house unaccompanied minors. 

News also broke this week that eight immigrant children have been housed for about a month on Long Island at MercyFirst in Syosset, a nonprofit sponsored by Sisters of Mercy, not because they had family nearby, but because the facility had available beds, its president and CEO Gerard McCaffery told Newsday.

In a series of tweets before his visit to Cayuga Centers, de Blasio denounced the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance policy” on illegal crossings, which has resulted in nearly 2,000 immigrant children being separated from their families.

“We have to make sure we understand that each one of these children is a human being with a name and a family and a story,” de Blasio wrote. “We cannot let the efforts to dehumanize them infect the rest of us.”

Amid the growing outrage from both sides of the aisle, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to end the separation of immigrant children from their parents when the families are caught illegally crossing the border and requires the families to be detained together.

“It's about keeping families together while at the same time making sure that we have a very powerful, very strong border,” Trump said at the signing in the Oval Office.

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