By Tequila Minsky
U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-Brooklyn) spoke Sunday at Foley Square in Manhattan about the children separation crisis the country is experiencing.
One month ago, Federal District Court Judge Dana Sabraw of the Southern District in California ordered a halt to family separations, which have occurred when refugees — many of whom were seeking asylum — had their children taken from them as they were put in detention after having crossed the U.S.-Mexico border.
The judge set July 26 as the deadline for reuniting parents with their minor children.
As the date loomed this week, elected officials and immigration advocates pointed out how little had been done to meet this deadline and how many children remained separated from their parents for as long as two or three months.
“Since the very first day of Donald Trump’s Zero Tolerance policy, I have said that the immorality of this administration is rivaled only by its incompetence,” Velázquez, whose district includes Ridgewood and Woodhaven, said at the news conference. “This administration and cabinet members never had a plan for these children of ending this cruel, heartless and disgraceful policy. They simply had no idea what they were doing when they started taking children away from their parents immediately.”
Velázquez said that 364 of 2,500 children have been reunited with their families as of July 20.
“The courts have spoken and the American people have spoken and we have zero tolerance for your Zero Tolerance Policy,” Velázquez added. “These children cannot wait one more day. There can be no more delays.”
She addressed the president directly, encouraging him to reunite children with their families.
“Mr. President, history will judge you and more importantly, voters will judge you, maybe as soon as November,” Velázquez said.
She was joined by fellow U.S. Reps. Jerry Nadler (D-Manhattan) and Adriano Espaillat (D-Manhattan), along with Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, each of whom conveyed their grave concerns regarding the policy and how there is no real and humane plan to make things right.
Nadler emphasized how the children do not know when or if they will see their parents again.
“Where is your plan?,” he asked the president. “These children have been traumatized, and they want to inflict more trauma on them,” he said.
Immigration advocates from ACLU, Legal Aid, The Door and The New Sanctuary Coalition’s Ravi Ragbir joined the lawmakers in their stance against the Trump administration’s policy.