Gov. Cuomo said Tuesday he will sue the federal government over its policy of separating immigrant children from their parents at the U.S.’ southern border, as more than 70 of those children have wound up in facilities in New York State — with a federal source telling the Daily News the number of separated children here is even higher, 311.
“There’s been a lot of talk about the morality of this practice, but we also believe that this practice is illegal, and we are intending to bring suit against the federal government, ” Cuomo said in a conference call with reporters Tuesday afternoon.
Cuomo said the children are being held in private facilities, including three in the Bronx, that are contracted by the federal government to provide services to unaccompanied alien children — minors who cross the border alone and whom the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement temporarily houses while seeking family sponsors.
“But these are not unaccompanied alien children. These are children who were separated from their parents,” Cuomo said.
A federal source told The News that the Office of Refugee Resettlement’s population of unaccompanied minors in New York State’s lower 14 counties was 1,321 as of Monday — but of those, 311 are actually in shelters as a result of separation from family held in detention centers. All of the facilities in the area house boys and girls, except one that houses boys 14 to 17, the source said.
Cuomo said that while the state has oversight of the facilities, it has been told it cannot provide services to the children in them without approval from the federal Health and Human Services Department, which he said told the state it would take weeks.
As for the suit, Cuomo said he intends to bring it in the next two weeks and that it would be based on three legal theories.
“First, that it’s a violation of the constitutional rights of the parent to the care, custody and control of their children,” he said, and a violation of their due process as the children were removed without any hearings.
The second theory, he said, is the policy violates the terms of the 1997 Flores settlement that set national standards on the detention, release and treatment of children in immigration detention “and underscores the principle of family unity.”
And third, he said, “it is outrageous government conduct.”
Cuomo said the state has the legal right to bring such a suit.
“New York has standing, these agencies have standing, because there are children in New York who are, who have been taken from their parents without due process,” Cuomo said.
His counsel, Alphonso David, said, “The state is vindicating due process, familial association rights, of the children who are located in New York State. In addition New York State is protecting the health and welfare of children within its jurisdiction.”
Some of those children are being held at MercyFirst in Syosset, L.I., as reported Monday. Gerard McCaffrey, president and CEO of MercyFirst, brushed past a reporter seeking confirmation that nearly 60 kids are being housed there.
“It’s late at night. You can call me at work tomorrow,” said McCaffrey as he rushed into his Upper East Side apartment building.
Cuomo did not have a breakdown of how many children have been shipped to sites in New York.
“We have about 10 facilities in the state. We haven’t spoken with all of them,” Cuomo said. “We know there are over 70 children, just by the ones that we have talked about, but they are in Dobbs Ferry, Lincolndale, Yonkers, Irvington, three in the Bronx, one in Syosett and one in Kingston.”
In a followup interview with The News, David declined to characterize these facilities, saying they offer varying degrees of security and services. They are co-located in facilities that provide state-certified foster care programs, David said, but the migrant children are not part of the state’s foster care network. Instead, the agencies contract directly with the Health and Human Services Department and its Office of Refugee Resettlement.
A second federal source said the Health and Human Services Department-funded facilities in New York for unaccompanied minors are not comparable to conditions at the facilities along the border, which include chain-link cages.
“Based off our conversations with providers contracted by the federal government, we believe there are dozens, and possibly many more, of separated children in New York City,” Seth Stein, a spokesman for Mayor de Blasio, said. “We have every indication that they are being cared for by qualified facilities and foster families. But that doesn’t make these family separations any less unconscionable and immoral in the mayor’s eyes.”
Typically, unaccompanied minors arrive in New York because they have family nearby, and they are held in such facilities while the government looks for relative sponsors to place them with.
Children’s Village in Dobbs Ferry, Westchester County, — which has a contract with the Office of Refugee Resettlement to provide such services — describes its program as a “family-like and nurturing environment,” that offers education, recreation, medical care and family reunification. It declined to comment on its unaccompanied minors program or whether it had children who were separated from their parents at the border.
In the Bronx, both Lutheran Social Services and Catholic Guardian Services have federal contracts to provide services and shelter to unaccompanied minors. The communications office at Lutheran Social Services said it could not answer questions about whether it housed children separated at the border; Catholic Guardian Services did not return a message left Tuesday afternoon.
At an unrelated press conference, de Blasio said it’s horrible to begin with for a child to be taken from his or her parent even if they’re held in separate facilities in the same town.
“But it’s much much worse if they’re separated by 1,000 miles, and you have no idea when that family’s going to get reunified,” he said. “And that’s what we fear we’re seeing, and we just have to do everything we can to stop it.”
De Blasio, who said he is considering a trip to the border, said that if visiting a facility here would help, he’d also consider that.
“I want to do whatever I can to stop this broken, inhumane policy,” he said, calling the border the immediate issue. “I also want to see anything we can do to stop New York City from being used as a place to send children separated from their parents.”
Former City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito — who just returned from a trip to the border — said it was as if the children had been “disappeared.”
“It tells you the enormity of this issue,” she said of having to house children separated at the border all the way in New York. “That’s what that tells you.”
City Public Advocate Letitia James also ripped the policy, as she held a baby following an unrelated press conference on child care.
“It is unconscionable in this country that we are basically snatching babies from the arms of their families, their mothers,” she said. “We should not be cooperating in this policy that separates families.”
By ERIN DURKIN, JILLIAN JORGENSEN and KERRY BURKE
| NEW YORK DAILY NEWS |
New York officials face backlash over ‘congestion’ tax push
New York City is expensive. From parking to hotels to Broadway tickets, the city has a way of leaving the wallet lighter for any visitor. But it’s poised to get even pricier if a controversial new “congestion” fee comes to fruition.
With Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s backing, the proposed charge would be imposed at all Manhattan points of entry below 60th Street. While the price has not been set in stone, a report commissioned by Cuomo’s office recommends cars entering Manhattan during peak hours be charged $11.52, and trucks be charged $25.34 – on top of any bridge tolls.
The hope is that the fees eventually would help ease traffic, while sending needed funds toward public transportation, notably the city’s aging subway system.
But, on the heels of New York’s clash with Amazon that ended with the tech giant scrapping plans for a new headquarters there, the proposal is creating new economic concerns and political pushback.
Democratic state Sen. Joseph Addabbo, who represents parts of Queens and Brooklyn, told Fox News that “businesses are very concerned” about the higher costs of entering Manhattan.
“Being a business person in New York City is not easy,” he said. “… Congestion pricing is hitting them over the head.”
Cuomo, in his State of the State address last month, said the fee would raise about $15 billion by 2024. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio supports the legislation but is calling for hardship exemptions for those traveling to Manhattan for medical care – as well as upstate farmers who sell produce in Manhattan.
Phase one, meanwhile, already has been enacted as New Yorkers riding below 96th Street started seeing increased prices in their taxis, Ubers and other rides for hire since Feb. 1: $2.50 for yellow cabs; $2.75 for Uber, Lyft and Juno; and 75 cents for ridesharing cars. Cuomo reportedly says the Metropolitan Transportation Authority can gain $1 million a day from the new surcharges.
But in a statement to Fox News, the Independent Drivers Guild representing over 70,000 app-based drivers blasted what it called a “sham” tax that “unjustly singles out low income for-hire drivers and their already highly-taxed riders.” The organization said the system “disproportionately hurts women, who more often opt for Uber or Lyft trips over public transit for safety reasons, especially at night.”
What comes next is not yet clear. Phase one only went into effect this month after a long legal battle. Phase two, which would extend to all drivers, would have to clear the state legislature – but could be a tough sell since the tax would affect any constituents who travel to the city.
New York City Councilman Barry Grodenchik, a Democrat representing part of Queens, worried about the impact to his constituents, many of whom rely on cars to get into Manhattan.
Leading opponent Richard Brodsky, a former Democratic assemblyman, told The New York Times last year, “This has always been a policy nostrum of the elites, sort of a big lab test in which the lab rats — the regular people — wanted no part of it.”
Supporters counter that the plan can work, and is sorely needed.
A spokesman for New York state Democratic Sen. Liz Kruger, who represents Manhattan’s east side and supports the plan, told Fox News the senator remains optimistic and “the devil is in the details.” Kruger thinks there is “a model that can be found that is equitable to all New Yorkers,” the spokesman said.
Democratic state Sen. Kevin Thomas, of Long Island, stressed the need to fund infrastructure repairs. “Much of my district commutes by train to the city, and improvements are desperately needed to the aging rail line,” he said, urging that most of the money go toward fixing the Long Island Railroad.
In Cuomo’s State of the State address, he said, “The status quo has got to go. Riders are fed up, the situation only gets worse. It’s like the old commercial: you can pay me now or you can pay me later. The system is just continuing to deteriorate and if we don’t invest now we’re going to pay more later and suffer in the meantime. … Let’s do it this year.”
Congestion pricing is not new. London has had an £11.50 surcharge since 2003, during working business hours. Los Angeles, too, is looking at a rush-hour toll system, with support from Democratic Mayor Eric Garcetti.
Open Forum: Socialist insanity: Keep your cars and your cows
As presidential wannabes launch their campaigns for 2020, they seem to stand behind New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s harebrained neo-socialist Green New Deal. But when questioned about their support for the resolution, they capitulate by referring to the deal as only “aspirational.” It makes sense to dodge the political insanity, but they should denounce the Green New Deal openly.
The very notion of Socialism in America causes people like me to cringe, but apparently a small percentage of Americans see it differently. Socialism demands equality among individuals through government ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods.
But to demand equality for all is a problem for some who believe that no two people are the same. Under socialism, those who administer, “or the ruling class,” divide the earnings from the sale of goods equally among those who produced them. So the ruling class creates a sense of equality that doesn’t exist.
Trying to force equality through administrative regulation and turning a blind eye to individual effort and talent ignores personal freedom and the effort to succeed. All individuals deserve the freedom to develop and improve their value in the workplace and increase their earnings. Without the freedom and incentive to produce more through innovation and increased personal effort, economic failure is likely.
Venezuela is but one example of socialism’s impact on a strong economy. From the 1950s to the early 1980s, the Venezuelan economy, buoyed by high oil prices, was one of the strongest in South America. In 1970 It was the richest country in Latin America and one of the 20 richest countries in the world. The violence, disease, and personal hardships suffered by Venezuelan citizens today, has developed over the past 20 years of rule under the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), ushered in by Hugo Chavez in 2007.
The better place for a blind eye is Ocasio-Cortez’s outlandish Green New Deal resolution. That would make more sense and better serve America since her plan would ban cars, planes, and cows, eliminate fossil fuels and nuclear energy, and offer free education to all in a mere 12 years? Get serious! American voters deserve the truth regarding economic policy platforms in America, not impossible and undoable socialist insanity that leads to economic failure.
The natural laws of physics would make most of the plan impossible. Renewable energy sources will not sustain America’s energy demands now and they never will. The money needed to support this delusional vision is unreasonable now and always will be.
I suggest that Americans keep their cars and their cows, continue to use fossil fuels to sustain energy requirements, and allow our free market system to preserve liberty and prosperity for all Americans. And the federal government should continue to protect the security and safety of our citizens and follow the mandates of our Constitution. Presidential hopefuls should be firm and dismiss the Socialist insanity!
VULGAR MESSAGE TO DONALD TRUMP IN POLITICAL CARTOON CAUSES PAPER TO DROP CARTOONIST: ‘LOOSE LIPS SINK STRIP’
A newspaper says it will stop publishing a popular cartoon after a vulgar message addressed to President Donald Trump appeared in its latest issue.
“Non Sequitur” is a syndicated cartoon by Wiley Miller and is a regular feature of the Pennsylvania publication The Butler Eagle.
Readers are encouraged to color in the three-panel, black-and-white cartoon, which this week featured a “Bearaissance” character named “Leonardo Bear Vinci.”
But on Sunday, readers spotted that a small scribbled message appears in one of the panels, which says “We fondly say go f*** yourself…Trump.”
Ron Vodenichar, Eagle publisher and general manager was unhappy with the message, which was brought to his attention after a reader spotted it.
In a Butler Eagle article headlined “Loose lips sink strip: cartoonist fired for cure,” Vodenichar was quoted as saying that the message was “apparently placed there by someone in the creative department of the creator of the comic strip or the syndication which controls it.
“Neither The Butler Eagle nor any other newspaper that includes this strip had an opportunity to remove it even if they had discovered it before distribution.
“We apologize that such a disgusting trick was perpetuated on the reading public. The Butler Eagle will discontinue that comic immediately,” Vodenichar said.
The strip is distributed by Andrews McMeel Syndication whose website states that it appears in more than 700 newspapers. It is unclear if other publications will follow suit.
In a tweet, Miller appeared to refer to the message, by saying: “”some of my sharp-eyed readers have spotted a little Easter egg. … Can you find it?”
Miller does not hide his contempt for Trump on Twitter. After the State of the Union address, he tweeted on February 6: “Trump’s SOTU address was essentially that guy yelling at his bloodied wife, ‘WHY DO YOU MAKE ME KEEP HITTING YOU?'”
On immigration, he referred to him as “the Gaslighter-in-Chief” who presents “zero evidence to support this claim” about the numbers of people coming into the country from Mexico.
In response to reports that Trump had blamed the Democrats for faltering talks on the border wall, Miller tweeted: “The gaslighting projectionist explains it all. Such a stable genius.”
The negotiators for the Republicans and the Democrats had hoped that a deal would be struck by Monday so Congress could pass the legislation in time for the February 15 cut-off date.
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