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Westchester Facility With Migrant Kids Working To Find Separated Parents

Abbott House in Irvington.
Abbott House in Irvington. Photo Credit: File

Members of Abbott House in Westchester, which is housing migrant children that were separated from their families from the Mexican border amid the recently rescinded Trump administration “zero tolerance” policy, are working to reunite the separated parties in their care.

Last week, elected officials in Irvington, led by Mayor Brian Smith, issued a joint statement on Friday on the migrant kids who are being housed at Abbott House off Route 9 (Broadway) in the village in Greenburgh as President Donald Trump continues to vacillate on his administration’s immigration policies.

“The Irvington Board of Trustees joins many of you in our disgust and contempt for the ‘zero tolerance’ policy at the United States border with Mexico,” they said in a statement. “The separation of children from their parents is abhorrent and runs counter to the very fabric of what makes America a beacon for justice and freedom to the world.

James Kaufman, the President and CEO of Abbott House noted that they were first asked to care for unaccompanied children crossing the border in 2013, after they attempt to “flee violence, poverty, hunger and abuse, mainly from Central America.”

“Each child’s story is different yet all are heartbreaking,” he said. “Their journey takes a physical and emotional toll. Many are malnourished when they arrive from a life-time of insufficient nutrients.  But they are full of hope for a better life.”

Kaufman said that when the children reach safety in the United States, the U.S. Border Patrol takes them into temporary custody and then in partnership with the Department of Health and Human Services, the Office of Refugee Resettlement places the children in short-term care in programs with organizations like Abbott House that are skilled at meeting the emotional and medical needs of children.

The Transitional Resources for Children program cares for more than 50 children separated from their families at a time, and have helped more than 600 children since 2013 when the program was founded. They “They provide these children healthcare, mental health care, emotional support, education, a safe living environment, clothing, recreation and spiritual opportunities.”

According to Kaufman, Abbot House, has “already been in contact with the majority of families."

“We work with the families to honor their plans and preferences for their children.  We also vet every family member or sponsor to ensure the children can safely be reunited.  This can sometimes take a little longer, but we want to make sure that the children will not be in harm’s way.”

“People often ask, why do we take in children who were separated from their parents?  The simple answer is that we have been doing this for the last 54 years with children that are placed in our foster care program.  We have what it takes to give them the very best nurturing environment until they can be reunited with their families.  Keeping families together is what Abbott House does best. We would rather know that these children are in a safe, compassionate environment like Abbott House as opposed to other options.”

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