ALBANY — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Tuesday that the state will sue the Trump administration over 70 children held in 10 sites across the state after they were separated from their parents by immigration officers.
Cuomo said the suit, to be filed within two weeks, will accuse President Donald Trump’s administration of using a police force — the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency — to illegally separate immigrant children from their parents. Cuomo said the legal burden for separating children from their parents is on the government and the Trump administration hasn’t proved the need.
“The separation between police powers and political wishes is sacrosanct in this country, and I believe that is being violated,” Cuomo said.
Trump doubled down Tuesday on his defense of his administration’s policy to separate migrant families crossing into the United States at the Mexican border, saying, “We must always arrest people coming into our Country illegally.”
There were 1,995 minors separated from adults from April 19 to May 31, according to government figures obtained by The Associated Press.
“An undocumented family still has rights, just based on being located in this country,” Cuomo said. He said federal government has denied state attempts to meet with and provide health care to the children in 10 sites around the state, including one in Syosset and three in the Bronx.
Cuomo took aim at Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, who was in upstate Auburn for a political fundraising event Tuesday. “They love to talk about their American values, their family values, their good Christian values, but their actions are the exact opposite . . . through the tears of children,” Cuomo said. “It’s as ugly a demonstration of government conduct as I’ve seen.”
Earlier, state Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa and state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia issued a stament on the family separation issue. They wrote:
“Some issues go beyond partisan, parochial politics. Ensuring the well-being of children is one such universal issue . . .
“Because this President does not appear to have the compassion or understanding to reverse his cruel separation policy, it is time for our elected officials to demonstrate courage and act. Today the Board of Regents and the NYS Education Department call on our members of Congress, regardless of political party, to stand up for families and children and put an immediate end to the President’s cruel and immoral policy.”
With Laura Figueroa Hernandez