Mark-Viverito Calls for New York City to House Unaccompanied Immigrant Children

Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. (Photo: NYC Council/William Alatriste)

Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. (Photo: NYC Council/William Alatriste)

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito called on New York City to follow Syracuse’s footsteps and offer shelter to some of the unaccompanied, undocumented immigrant children flooding into the country as they flee violence in Central America.

“These children are facing a horrific situation at home, which has led them and their families to make some really difficult decisions,” Ms. Mark-Viverito told the Observer at an unrelated press conference. “I think that we have a responsibility to respond to a humanitarian crisis that we have before us.”

As the federal government seeks a place to shelter children detained at the border as they await appearances in immigration court, some have been brought to New York to be placed in the care of relatives or sponsors here, according to The New York Times. Other cities, including Syracuse, have offered locations to shelter those who cannot be placed with family or sponsors, as reported the Times—and Ms. Mark-Viverito said Thursday she thought New York City should do the same.

“It’s good to hear that mayors like the mayor of Syracuse have said that Syracuse would have an open door and be helpful in the name of housing some of these children, and I think that we should do the same thing, and I think that we should be humane about the way that we deal with situations like this,” Ms. Mark-Viverito said.

She would be “more than open” to conversations figuring out how New York City could support the children, she said.

“Not only are they facing a horrific situation leaving home, a horrific situation right now, but are also then being vilified—the way they’re being vilified at the border breaks my heart, to be honest. And I think it’s something we need to stand up against,” she said. “I think by being supportive to that we’d be sending a very strong message.”

Earlier this week, when Mayor Bill de Blasio was asked about whether the city would look to house the children in the way Syracuse had during his Italian vacation, Mr. de Blasio noted many here were already with family.

“What we know right now is so many of the children who are reaching New York are reaching family members in New York, and that’s the reality,” Mr. de Blasio said, according to audio provided by his office.