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Need to Heed Liberty Pledge for Thousands of Undocumented N.Y. Kids

PHOTO: As the nation celebrates Welcoming Week, New York faith leaders say residents need to heed the inscription on the Statue of Liberty as Long Island and the nation cope with thousands of undocumented children. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.
PHOTO: As the nation celebrates Welcoming Week, New York faith leaders say residents need to heed the inscription on the Statue of Liberty as Long Island and the nation cope with thousands of undocumented children. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.
September 18, 2014

NEW YORK - As the nation celebrates Welcoming Week, New York City faith leaders say when it comes to the thousands of immigrant children fleeing violence, it pays to remember the motto on the Statue of Liberty.

Father Bill Brisotti from Our Lady of Miraculous Medal in Wyandanch says it can be stressful for communities on Long Island to absorb thousands of young children all at once - but he suggests it is also important to remember the violence the children are fleeing.

"This isn't just an invasion," he says. "There is a need to, first of all, understand the roots of what the situation is in Central America. Why these kids are so poor, and why there's so much violence."

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone will participate in Welcoming Week events Thursday, including welcoming new citizens who have just completed naturalization ceremonies on Long Island.

Father Brisotti says the U.S. still does not recognize the United Nations' Rights of the Child, and he says both New York and the nation would be well-served to heed our own national motto on the Statue of Liberty.

"Send me your tired, your poor, your struggling masses," says Brisotti. "This new wave of immigration will ultimately strengthen us, but we need to work out a way of getting through this stressful moment."

Published reports indicate Hempstead is coping with a disproportionate number of undocumented children. Father Brisotti says that needs to be addressed.

"Over 1,200 kids in just one school district," Brisotti. "That's got to be looked at in the sense of federal aid to help deal with this extraordinary number of children that don't speak English, and who come from very low-income families."

Faith Leaders will meet at Our Lady of Miraculous Medal at 1 p.m. on Friday.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY