Consuls in NYC Team Up to Call for Family Reunification

Consuls in NYC Team Up to Call for Family Reunification

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NEW YORK(TIP): On Tuesday, the New York-based consuls of Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and Costa Rica joined Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo in demanding the Trump administration
 provide “complete and transparent” information on the migrant children 
who have been separated from their parents at the border and sent to New

The Central American diplomats created a
 common front to protect the children and analyze the tools with which 
they hope to be able to access the federal data but warned that a prompt
 reunification will be difficult if Washington continues to refuse to 
release the information.

“This goes beyond policies and 
countries; it is about human dignity, and what we need to do is ask the 
government to clarify the information and promote reunification,” said 
Juan Diego Zelaya, consul of Honduras, adding that so far, they know 
there are 449 minors from his country in New York City.

The diplomat said that he has already 
met with a number of children who are under the care of the Cayuga 
Center in Manhattan. There, he was told that the center has information 
on each one of the minors but is prevented from sharing it without 
federal authorization.

“[They said that] when a child is 
detained at the border and has been separated from their father and 
mother, there is a special file detailing where the parent and the child
 were sent, and we requested access to that information to be able to 
help,” added Zelaya.

Similarly, Guatemala’s consul Pedro 
Tzunún said that there are 692 Guatemalan minors in New York, 500 of 
them male and mostly teenagers. He added that it is painful to know that
 they are away from their families.

“It is hard to see that the kids don’t 
even know or understand what is happening. The youngest is a 5-year-old 
girl. She does not talk much, but you can see the sadness in her, and it
 hurts to see that they will end up traumatized,” said the consul, who 
also asked to have access to the children’s data.

Mexican Consul Diego Gómez Pickering 
said that there are three minors from his country in New York and that 
the joint effort of the diplomatic delegations is meant to create 
channels of cooperation to help the minors.

For his part, José Vicente Chinchilla, 
consul of El Salvador, mentioned that the information his office has 
received is so vague that they only have an estimate of between 100 and 
150 Salvadoran children separated from their parents in the country, 
with no specific information on how many of them are in New York.

“Without that information, we cannot 
operate. We believe that, ideally, the children should travel with their
 parents. We intend to have the families reunited, but we want to make 
it clear that we respect the laws of this country, even when we do not 
share this decision to separate them,” said the Salvadoran diplomat.

The consul of Costa Rica, Rolando Madrigal, said that he only knows of one minor from his country in the city.

While the consuls agreed that everything
 is uncertain at the moment due to the federal administration’s refusal 
to share the children’s data in a “transparent and clear” manner, 
Council member Carlos Menchaca warned that many of the children – 
particularly the youngest – may get lost in the system and never see 
their parents again unless swift action is taken.

“That might happen if nothing is done,” 
said the chair of the City Council’s Committee on Immigration. He added 
that he is especially concerned about the fate of a 9-month-old baby who
 is currently in New York City.

“It is so jarring that this is happening
 now, and we need to focus on that child – who is 9 months old and can’t
 even talk – and bring justice. We need to reunite [the baby] with the 
parents immediately because they have rights, and not even the 
government can take those rights away,” said Menchaca.

The politicians also said that if the 
federal government fails to promptly provide the data the group is 
requesting, they may consider taking legal action.


“We are going to explore every option to
 stop this administration, which is creating a humanitarian crisis with 
these children, and we are going to use the courts, but our priority 
right now is to get a hold of the information because at the moment, we 
don’t even know how many children there are or where their parents are,”
 said Menchaca.


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