Migrant children
photo: thenyic.org
photo: thenyic.org

New York City announced on Tuesday that it would help bring services to the hundreds of children arriving from Central America by placing representatives at federal immigration courts, a move that officials called the first of its kind in the city, reported The New York Times.

In New York State, as many as 4,000 migrant children– 2,000 on Long Island alone– have been taken into custody between October of last year and August 2014 after crossing the U.S. border, and thousands more are expected this year.

Ranging in age from 5 to 17, they face court hearings to determine whether they are allowed to stay in the United States or be deported. But their chances are very good in New York, which has granted asylum in more than 80 percent of cases, compared to a national average of about 50 percent.

The Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, New York’s federal immigration court has assumed a “kinder, gentler” approach to children who would be in danger if they were forced to return: “Connecting these vulnerable children to educational, health and social services is vital to helping our families and communities gain stability,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement.

The city also plans to set up weekend workshops at public schools with large immigrant populations so that representatives can advise families on matters from mental health services to vaccinations.

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