The President and CEO of a Westchester facility which is home to several children who were separated from their families from their parents at the Mexican border, is the latest official to speak out against President Donald Trump’s administration’s policy impacting migrant families.
Many of the children are being housed at Children’s Village in Dobbs Ferry, which, according to its website, “works in partnership with families to help society’s most vulnerable children so that they become educationally proficient, economically productive, and socially responsible members of their communities.”
Although Trump reversed course, signing an executive order to end the policy this week amid a national backlash, Jeremy Kohomban, who runs Children’s Village, has sought to set the record straight in regards to his organization.
“As you may be aware, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Tuesday that Children’s Village is housing immigrant children who have been separated from their parents,” he wrote in an email to Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner. “A small number of older children have been placed with us as part of the Unidos por un Sueno (United for a Dream) program that Children’s Village has been proud to provide since 2004.
“These children are being cared for in the same manner as we care for all of the children in the program. The focus of the US program is to reunify children with their families, not to separate them. We pride ourselves on that, and it will continue to be our primary objective for all children who enter the program.”
Kohomban said that they’ve been caring for unaccompanied minors since 2004, with children separated from families considered “unaccompanied,” though they are a small percentage of the children on campus. Each is between 12 and 17 years old and he specified that it is “not a tender care facility.” He noted that “our first job is to find their families and get the kids on the phone with them.”
“Children live in beautiful cottages with comfortable living rooms, dining rooms, beds (and other amenities,)” he added. “Children receive education, recreation medical care and counseling. They spend time in the Lanza Recreation Center, which has an indoor pool, a fitness facility, barber shop, Hawks Nest Cafe and gym.”
Kohomban said that since Cuomo announced his intention to sue the Trump administration, the response has been “overwhelming, but mostly in an extraordinarily positive way.”
“As the news spread, phone calls from friends who want to help have been pouring in. Mayor Peter Swiderski of Hastings-on-Hudson, where part of Children’s Village’s campus resides, helped to organize a group who started a GoFundMe page. Individuals and groups are making welcome kits for the children. Facebook has lit up with people who want to help.”
“While we all share repulsion and dismay at this pointlessly cruel policy, the fact is that these children are now in the care of the state, and if that is happening, there is no better place for them to land than in the care of Children’s Village,” Swiderski added. “Children’s Village is acting on its mission to provide the highest standard of care and safety for these children, like they have for all those in their care.
"They provide social workers, psychologists, access to immigration lawyers, vaccinations, health care, education and comfortable surroundings. Children’s Village is doing what they do and what they can. They deserve no opprobrium.”
“We have about 10 facilities in this state. We haven’t spoken with all of them. We know there are over 70 children, just by the ones that we have talked about but they are in Dobbs Ferry, Lincolndale, Irvington, three in the Bronx, one in Syosset and one in Kingston,” Cuomo said during a conference call on Tuesday when he announced his intention to sue the federal government over the treatment of the kids.
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