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Six migrant children remain in care of MercyFirst in Syosset

The last migrant children separated from their parents

The last migrant children separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border have left MercyFirst in Syosset. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Six migrant children on Long Island remain apart from their parents, a week after a court-ordered deadline for them and hundreds of others nationwide to be reunited with their families after being forcibly separated at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The children are under the care of MercyFirst, a Catholic foster care agency in Syosset where they have stayed for weeks, said Gerard McCaffery, the agency’s CEO and president.

The Trump administration said it has reunited about 1,800 of 3,000 children separated at the border since May under its “zero tolerance” policy on illegal immigration.

Some of the children remain separated because their parents have been deported or deemed ineligible to receive them for various reasons, the Justice Department said.

MercyFirst has recently had nine of the children under its care, though three were reunited with their parents in late July, including a 7-year-old boy from Brazil who was reunited with his father in detention.

The nine children are from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Brazil. Two are 14 and the others are 5, 6, 7, 9, 11 and 17.

McCaffery said he could not provide details on the status of the remaining six because of federal privacy laws.

“We are still waiting for clarification from the federal government as to the next steps,” he said.

Migrant children generally face three options, McCaffery said. Some will reunite with a parent in detention wherever the parent is held. Others will be deported to rejoin their parents in their home countries. Still others have opted to live with relatives already in the United States and pursue political asylum.

In all cases, the children’s parents made the decision, McCaffery said.

In general, the younger children are opting to be reunited with a parent, while older children are going to live with a relative in the United States, he said.

The ACLU sued the federal government in March to stop family separations. In June, U.S. District Court Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego ordered children 5 to 17 to be reunited with their families by July 26. Close to 50 of the approximately 100 children under 5 were reunited by July 10.

Trump ended family separations in late June after widespread criticism.

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