NYC Council Speaker: City Should House Unaccompanied Minors

Image: NYC Council Speaker: City Should House Unaccompanied Minors City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. (Rommel Demano/Stringer/Getty Images)

Friday, 25 Jul 2014 02:18 PM

By Jennifer G. Hickey

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New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said the city should follow the lead of other municipalities and offer to shelter some of the unaccompanied children illegally crossing the border from Central America, the New York Observer reported.

"These children are facing a horrific situation at home, which has led them and their families to make some really difficult decisions. I think that we have a responsibility to respond to a humanitarian crisis that we have before us," Mark-Viverito told the Observer on Thursday.

Mayor Bill de Blasio did not respond directly to the speaker's calls, but said that "many of the children who are reaching New York are reaching family members," according to the Observer.

Earlier this month, de Blasio signed legislation that would give more than 500,000 illegal immigrants residing in New York City municipal identification cards which they could use to obtain city services, the New York Daily News reported.

On July 22, Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren announced the city was considering ways to house up to 172 immigrant children at the former site of the Blossom South Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

"As a part of our fact-finding process we will engage in meaningful discussions with City Council, neighborhood groups, community service providers and faith-based organizations prior to drafting any formal proposal," Warren said in a statement.

Warren added that the community has a "moral obligation to show compassion to these young people" but that it was necessary to "ensure that the environment is a safe one for them."

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner sent a letter to President Barack Obama on July 17 to request "your help to create a partnership between Syracuse and the federal government to help mitigate the humanitarian crisis of the unaccompanied minors arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border."

She said the Department of Health and Human Services already completed a "partial assessment" of a potential site and that "the Syracuse community has been part of the successful network the U.S. government has relied on for the placement and settlement of refugees."

Not all municipalities, however, have welcomed the chance to house the children. This week, the Houston suburb of League City passed a resolution stating that any request from the government to establish detention or processing centers should be rejected, reports KHOU-TV.

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