Rally held in New Haven to support immigrant children

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH)– Children who fled countries filled with violence and crime took center stage at a New Haven immigration reform rally. Organizers said Governor Dannel Malloy is not acting on principles after they said he would not accept 2,000 child refugees to the state.

The crowd at the old site for the Gateway Community College chanted “Governor! No more excuses’ as they believe this location could be a good facility for some of the nearly 60,000 children stuck at the border. One of them used to be Hazel Mencos-Jimenez, 13, she used to live in Guatemala and said she watched her friend get kidnapped by gangs.

“She was afraid for her life everyday,” said her translator Rosario Caicedo. She continued, “since they were very little they have the threat of being sexually assaulted and kidnapped for let’s say $20.”

It took Mecos-Jimenez 3 months to get through Mexico. Then, she was detained at the border.

“There was no blankets and the temperature was incredibly cold. They call it the freezer.”

Eventually, she reunited with her mother in West Haven. The Connecticut Immigration Rights Alliance held the roughly 50 person rally.

“The reality must match the rhetoric,” said organizer Allak Bhatt.

They said they demand a comprehensive plan with the state, churches, and non-profits to help these children. Malloy said they’ve already connected more than 300 children with their relatives in the state. This morning he said, “if the children are going to remain in the United States placing them temporarily with family members rather than warehousing children makes a lot more sense to me.”

Late this afternoon, Malloy sent a statement saying he spoke with the White House and would consider the Gateway site, but still doesn’t believe the long-term detention of minors is the appropriate policy.

“This is progress, but Malloy can continue doing more. He’s talking with the federal government, let’s talk to these people on the ground,” said Bhatt.

Malloy’s full statement reads:

“I continue to work closely with the federal government on this important issue. Today, I participated in a conference call with the White House and the Secretaries of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services. It appears that substantial progress has been made to diminish the need for housing children for extended periods in large scale institutional settings. For example, the facility at Nogales now houses 22 children, down from more than 1,000. Much of this work has been accomplished by pursuing the appropriate step of placing children as quickly as possible with relatives, a position that we have advocated for the past week.

“The federal government has placed more than 320 children with relatives in Connecticut. I previously directed state agencies to facilitate such placements and to work with federal officials in an appropriate fashion should any additional needs arise or should they make additional requests. That would include exploring the Gateway property, which is owned and controlled by the Board of Regents system and is not a surplus state property. However, I do not believe that the long-term detention of minors is the appropriate policy.”

“Our office continues to work closely with the federal government on this important issue. The Governor was on conference call for more than an hour today with the White House and the Secretaries of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services. It appears that substantial progress has been made to diminish the need for housing children for extended periods in large scale institutional settings. For example, the facility at Nogales now houses 22 children, down from more than 1,000.  Much of this work has been accomplished by pursuing the appropriate step of placing children as quickly as possible with relatives, a position the Governor has advocated for the past week.
 
The federal government has placed more than 320 children with relatives in Connecticut.  The Governor has previously directed state agencies to facilitate such placements and to work with federal officials in an appropriate fashion should any additional needs arise or should they make additional requests. That would include exploring the Gateway property which is owned and controlled by the Board of Regents system, and is not a surplus state property. However, the administration does not believe that the long-term detention of minors is the appropriate policy.”

 

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