Immigration Reform News 2014: New York City Offers Public Services Directly to Resettled Undocumented Central American Children
New York's Mayor Bill de Blasio and Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs Nisha Agarwal announced on Tuesday they plan to give direct services to unaccompanied children undergoing deportation proceedings at New York City Immigration Court.
Since the middle of August, the Immigration Court has been holding special daily court hearings for the recently arrived child migrants to begin deportation proceedings.
Under the mayor's program, representatives from the Department of Education will be based at the court to assist children and their guardians with school enrollment and to provide them with information about programs for English Language Learners. Represents from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene will help enroll children in state-funded public health programs and, through the Health and Hospital Corporation, will treat children's medical and mental health needs.
"Connecting these vulnerable children to educational, health and social services is vital to helping our families and communities gain stability," de Blasio said at the announcement. "These children have come here because they have families or sponsors in New York City, and it is our responsibility to assist them. States and municipalities must do all they can to help their immigrant communities -- and we hope New York City's response helps model a more humanitarian approach at these dockets to provide these children with stability and safety."
Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña said every child has a right to a great education.
"We are committed to providing these children who have escaped violence back home with the academic foundation and access to services that they need in order to establish a path to long-term achievement," said Fariña.
New York's Public Advocate, Letitia James, along with immigration service organizations, Legal Aid Society, Catholic Charities Community Service, The Door and Safe Passage Project at New York Law School, was quick to realize early on that children would need pro-bono legal assistance and helped create the New York Legal Taskforce.
"As an attorney who has worked with Legal Aid Society, I recognize the incredible effect representation can have on court outcomes, and I am so proud to be working with legal assistance and youth services organizations to protect these at-risk youth," said James. "We cannot rob innocent children of the intervention and support they need in an effort to expedite immigration proceedings."
The Office of Refugee Resettlement said approximately 1,350 child migrants have been placed with family members or other sponsors in New York City in the first seven months of 2014. That figure includes 587 children in Queens, 362 in Brooklyn, 347 in the Bronx, 54 in Manhattan, and fewer than 50 in Staten Island. Long Island has received 2,277, and several hundred have been placed in counties in the lower Hudson Valley.
Government services available to children in New York City, regardless of immigration status, include school enrollment, after-school programs, public health insurance, child and welfare services, homeless prevention, and literarcy programs.
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