United States

Some Children Ripped From Families at Border Moved to Shelter on Long Island: Report

What to Know

  • Eight children ripped from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border have been relocated to a shelter on Long Island
  • The eight children are have been staying at MercyFirst in Syosset for about a month, Newsday reports
  • Nearly 2,000 children were separated from their families over a six-week period after Jeff Sessions announced a new 'zero-tolerance' policy

Several children of the nearly 2,000 ripped from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border have been relocated to a shelter on Long Island, according to a new report.

Newsday was first to report that the eight children have been put up at MercyFirst in Syosset and have been staying there for about a month. MercyFirst is a nonprofit organization sponsored by Sisters of Mercy, according to its Facebook page.

“Kids are very resilient, but it doesn’t take much for a kid to start crying and miss his mom,” the agency’s president and CEO Gerard McCaffery told Newsday.

McCaffery continued to tell Newsday that the children were moved to Long Island because there were beds available, not because they had family in the area. He added that the kids have shown signs of emotional impact from the separation. 

Nearly 2,000 children were separated from their families over a six-week period in April and May after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the new "zero-tolerance" policy that refers all cases of illegal entry for criminal prosecution. Prior procedure had limited prosecution for many family entrants, in part because regulations prohibit detaining children with their parents since the children are not charged with a crime and the parents are.

The current holding areas have drawn widespread attention after journalists gained access to one site Sunday. At a McAllen, Texas, detention center hundreds of immigrant children wait in a series of cages created by metal fencing. One cage had 20 children inside. Scattered about are bottles of water, bags of chips and large foil sheets intended to serve as blankets.

Audio of sobbing children calling out for their parents dominated the discussion Monday. "Papa! Papa!" one child is heard weeping in an audio file that was first reported by the nonprofit ProPublica and later provided to The Associated Press.

Trump administration officials said they do not like the family separations either — calling it the result of legal loopholes — but insist migrants who arrive illegally simply won't be released or loosely kept track of.

"The United States will not be a migrant camp and it will not be a refugee holding facility," Trump declared. "Not on my watch."

The Rev. Franklin Graham, a longtime Trump ally, called the policy "disgraceful." Former first lady Laura Bush called the policy "cruel" and "immoral."

--The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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