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Officials look for solutions as more child migrants arrive in NYC

Without a doubt, the immigration-related story generating the most news coverage over the last year has been the plight of the thousands of unaccompanied minors who have arrived at the southwest border seeking to gain entrance to the U.S. after an unimaginably long journey from Central America.

According to federal statistics, over 51,000 unaccompanied minors have been detained at the U.S.-Mexico border by the Department of Homeland Security and subsequently released to the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services since October 1.

While the DHS is tasked with finding temporary shelter for the children, agency officials have indicated that roughly 43,000 have already been placed with relatives or sponsors living throughout the nation.

In fact, reports indicate that upwards of 3,200 of these children have been sent to live with relatives or guardians right here in New York City or elsewhere in the Empire State. Furthermore, some immigrant advocates are projecting that another 7,000 may arrive in the near future.

Interestingly, this sudden influx of children in New York City has caught immigrant service providers and advocacy groups off guard, as many are now struggling to provide all of the necessary services.

Chief among the requests of these unaccompanied minors and their families is the need for legal counsel to represent them at their impending deportation hearings and to investigate whether they are entitled to some form of deportation relief.

It is worth noting that as opposed to other parts of the nation, the response to this issue has been largely positive here in New York City. Indeed, community-based groups serving the immigrant population recently formed a task force, complete with participation from city, state and federal officials, to tackle the problem head-on and devise practical solutions.

It will be interesting to see what transpires from these efforts and whether other areas around the nation follow the example set by the task force and New York City in general.

If you would like to learn more about your rights and options concerning deportation, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible.

Source: The New York Times, "With surge in child migrants, New York forms task force on aiding them," Kirk Semple, July 17, 2014

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