Local immigrant advocates are increasingly concerned about deteriorating conditions for immigrant children on Long Island. In the second year of the Trump presidency, there has been an overall decline in life opportunities for our young newcomers.
Trump’s attack on immigrants has directly impacted the education and health of immigrants under the age of 21.
Agencies that work on nutritional support for babies and children say that at many of their sites, the number of immigrants receiving assistance has fallen off. One agency said that it had seen 200 fewer Latinx applicants for nutritional support this year. Since many of these programs were started to help families avoid disabilities caused by childhood malnutrition, advocates expect to see more poor long-term health outcomes as a result.
All the agencies that I contacted had seen rising anxiety among children over changing immigration policies. Many of these children have parents or older brothers and sisters who face the loss of DACA or TPS and whose families are preparing for a dramatic drop in income as a result of the loss of employment authorization. Many parents are making preparations for friends and relatives to take over care of their children in the event of an arrest by ICE, which is also stoking fear in children, including those who are U.S.-born and do not face deportation themselves.
Finally, new policies announced by Jeff Sessions have undermined the futures of many 18-20-year-old unaccompanied children. The Department of Homeland Security is summarily denying the applications for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) for children who received favorable family court orders after their 18th birthday. In the past, these orders had been given full faith and credit by the federal government and the young immigrants have been placed on line for their green cards. Now, Homeland Security claims that such orders are no longer valid for SIJS. These young people, many of whom had completed all of the stages of the process prior to being granted permanent residence, are now seeing their status being put into jeopardy, and they are once again under the threat of deportation.
There is a deepening crisis for Long Island’s youngest immigrants and their families. It is unlikely to be abated soon.