Espaillat Wants Church-State Charity Team to Take in Immigrant Kids

State Senator Adriano Espaillat (Photo: Paula Duran).

State Senator Adriano Espaillat (Photo: Paula Duran).

State Senator Adriano Espaillat proposed that New York City partner with the Catholic Church and private groups to care for the thousands of undocumented children entering the state from Central America.

The upper Manhattan pol held a press conference at City Hall this morning calling for the federal government to grant protected immigrant status and full due process to the thousands of Latin American youth massed at the Mexican border. Mr. Espaillat suggested that New York could welcome the estimated 10,000 underage foreign nationals arriving in the state in spite of its already highly taxed resources by joining forces with religious institutions and philanthropists.

“The city has a huge heart, and we have public and private resources,” the senator said. “The Catholic Church and the religious community, which has shown a keen interest in these children, has a part to play. The private sector also has a part to play.”

Mr. Espaillat would not settle on a concrete proposal to handle and care for all of the children, but said that New York has a “moral obligation” to take the youth in, noting the extent of gang violence in their native nations–and the city’s history as an immigrant hub.

“One of the great things about our city is our ability to deal with these challenges. I think the city will find ways to find money,” Mr. Espaillat, who recently lost a race for Congress, said. “I don’t think it should be exclusively government,”

Manhattan Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, an ally of Mr. Espaillat’s, echoed the senator’s remarks.

“New York City should say ‘we are read to protect these children,” Mr. Rodriguez said. “New York City should be a haven for these children.”