ALBANY – Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday the state plans to file a lawsuit against the federal government for enacting a zero-tolerance policy to separate thousands of children from their families who illegally enter the country.
The announcement came as Trump administration officials say they have no clear plan yet on how to reunite the children. Federal officials say there are some methods parents can use to try to find their children: hotlines to call and an email address for those seeking information. Advocates say it’s not that simple.
In a conference call with media, Gov. Cuomo explained why he was proceeding with the lawsuit, saying it was inhumane, extortive and un-American.
Cuomo said the lawsuit against the federal government is grounded in three theories – including that the policy is in violation of constitutional rights of parents, including non-citizens, for the care and custody of their children; is in violation of the 1997 Flores Settlement that emphasizes keeping family units together; and is outrageous government conduct.
The governor also said that about 10 facilities in New York are included among the institutions that house separated children. Approximately 70 children are being held in New York and he wants them provided state mental health aid and support services, but that is being delayed by federal officials.
New York State is planning on filing a suit within the next two weeks.
Congressman Tom Reed (R-Corning) also weighed in on the situation Tuesday, describing the separation of children from their families as a “heart-wrenching issue” – adding that it is Congress, not the Trump administration that needs to act on an immigration reform bill in order to stop the practice.
Last night a vigil involving about 60 local residents took place at Veterans Memorial Park in Jamestown to raise awareness and show support for the detained children.