Brooklyn Lawmakers Urge Feds to be More Transparent


Brooklyn City Council Members gathered at the Mexican consulate Tuesday to put pressure on all levels of government to work with other countries to help reunite children separated with their parents at the United States border.

Council members Carlos Menchaca (D-Sunset Park, Red Hook) and Stephen Levin (D-Northern Brooklyn, Boerum Hill) met with representatives from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to discuss the situation of detained children in the city and beyond.

President Donald Trump signed an executive order last week that would keep parents and children together at the border.

Menchaca, who represents the 38th council district, said the group gathered fo represent kids who are in foster care in the city that have been separated from their parents because of issues with deportation.

City Council Members Carlos Menchaca and Stephen Levin with Consulate members from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Photo by RJ Sonbeek.

The members all agreed the meeting was productive, with the main topic being coming together to be more transparent with the situation.

“We’re calling everyone to work together,” he said, “This team was assembled in a short time to understand these cases.”

Members of the consulate discussed the individual problems facing each government that was represented at the meeting. The representatives stressed communication so that they may work with the people in detainment.

“So many of the consulates are trying to trickle information out of these organizations,” Menchaca said.

Menchaca said getting legal representation for children is not something new that the city has had to face, but it is something that needs to be addressed quickly, as there are children in all parts in the city that are being affected by the separation policy.

“We’re also trying to figure out how we can bring legal services to these kids,” he said.

This brought home the theme the councilmembers pushed from the meeting, which was unity among all community members. Menchaca said it is not until there is an uproar from enough people for there to be a response from the Trump administration.

“They will not respond until we are unified,” he said.

Although the city does not have any actual power in the matter, the objective from the council members was to get people talking about the cause.

“We have a role to represent the people of New York and the city of New York. Nothing is going to stop us from keeping the fight strong,” he said.

Levin, who represents the 33rd council district, called upon the federal government to share more information about where the children are being detained and separated and to share what their home countries can do to intervene in the situation.

“The fact of the matter is thousands upon thousands of New Yorkers and Americans across the country want to know what is going on here,” Levin said.

Levin accused the Trump administration of deliberately ignoring the requests for transparency in the situation.

“We need real, clear information, and that is not forthcoming. That needs to change immediately,” he said.

Levin said not much is known about what steps are being taken to ensure the children affected by the separation are being treated with dignity and respect. “We need to know what we can do to make sure that this process is least traumatic for these children,” he said.