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CNY Congress Members on Separating Children from Families at US Border

John Smith/WAER News

Congress Member John Katko would like to see the President and Congress stop the policy of separating children from families trying to enter the US at its borders, he said in a release Monday.  He said he supports border security, as long as it's done, 

" a humane way that preserves family unity and keeps young children safe," he added.

The house faces possible votes on two measures this week.  One would, in part, deal with the status of those in the country under the DACA program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.  The other includes financial support for President Trump's border wall proposal and paths to citizenship for some undocumented immigrants.  Both reportedly have language to change the issue of child separation.  Katko has been active in trying to shape an immigration proposal.

"Over the past several weeks, I have been a key negotiator on a compromise bill which emphasizes keeping families together, enhances border security and provides status for Dreamers," he said in a release.  "I’m hopeful that we can pass this measure through the House this week.”

He also aimed a portion of his message at the White House.

"I urge the Administration to proritize these principles (security, family unity, child safety), in enforcing the laws of this country."  

Congress Member Claudia Tenney, of the 22nd district including Utica, Cortland and Binghamton, was asked by consitutents to issue a statement or position on social media.  She said in a release that seeing children separated was "difficult."

"However, the safety of American citizens and the security of our borders must be our priority. We must make sure we treat everyone humanely, while ensuring that our immigration laws are respected. Loopholes within our immigration laws and enforcement are easily exploited by human traffickers and criminal gangs, like MS-13.  Our country remains open to those looking to build a better life in pursuit of the American dream by immigrating within the clearly established boundaries of our laws."

House leaders are trying to move toward votes on broad immigraiton reform measuers -- which include provisions to stop family separation.  But any indication by the President that he doesn't support them is considered likely to kill those votes.  


Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a statement saying he's "distrubed" by tactics used by immigration officials at the border.  He took a stand not to assist in such efforts with National Guard Troops from New York State.  

"The administration's unconscionable treatment of families at our border is a moral outrage and an affront to the values that built this state and this nation.  In the face of this ongoing human tragedy, let me be very clear: New York will not be party to this inhumane treatment of immigrant families. We will not deploy National Guard to the border, and we will not be complicit in a political agenda that governs by fear and division."

He also decried actions here in New York, in whcih Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers board trains and buses to try and find undocumented immigrants.  Such actions were recently reported to be on the rise in Syracuse at the Regional Transportation Center.  In pledging to support the rights of immigrants, Cuomo referred to the values enscripted on the Statue of Liberty.  


Last Thursday, several local groups held a march and rally around the issue, calling on Katko to end the children separation.  Some demonstrators worry about the long-term impact the trauma of being separated from parents might have on the children, while others wonder if the policy would cause the children to grow up hating the United States, even as they flee abuse and persecution elsewhere.  

Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.