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Mayor learns more than 200 separated migrant children in NYC

Last Updated Jun 20, 2018 at 7:40 pm EDT

NEW YORK, N.Y. – New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio learned Wednesday that 239 migrant children separated from their parents by federal immigration officials are being cared for in Harlem.

Speaking after a tour of the Cayuga Center, the Democratic mayor said that among the children was a 9-year-old boy from Honduras, named Edie, who had been sent 2,000 miles to the facility on a bus after being stopped trying to enter the U.S. at the southern border.

The youngest of the children sent to the centre so far was 9 months old, de Blasio said. He said he didn’t know until Wednesday morning that such large numbers of children taken from their parents were being brought to New York.

The Cayuga Center, which has classrooms in a six-story building across the street from an elevated train line, has a federal contract to place unaccompanied immigrant children in short-term foster care. Officials at the centre did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment.

De Blasio said the staff there told him it has taken in about 350 children since President Donald Trump’s administration implemented its “zero tolerance” policy this spring calling for the criminal prosecution of all adults caught crossing the border illegally.

The mayor said he visited a classroom where about 40 children, mostly from Guatemala, were working with three teachers.

“It looked like the kids were being treated very well,” the mayor said, although he said a number of the children arrived with physical problems, including lice, bed bugs and chicken pox.

De Blasio called the Republican president’s immigration policies inhumane, but praised the staff at the Cayuga Center.

“There have been threats directed against the people who work here. That is very wrong and inappropriate,” de Blasio said. “They didn’t create the policy. They are trying, as professionals, to help these kids in distress.”

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See AP’s complete coverage of the debate over the Trump administration’s policy of family separation at the border: https://apnews.com/tag/Immigration