'They are going to have a better life': Port Chester man shares dad's view of immigrant reunification process
A Port Chester father talks to News 12 exclusively about reuniting with his children recently after they were transported from migrant shelters in the South to airports in the Northeast.
Antonio asked News 12 not to use his last name because the fact that his two sons are here at all has sparked controversy in Westchester.
Pictures circulated online over the weekend, with some suggesting that large numbers of migrant children were arriving in the Hudson Valley as more flights carrying the undocumented minors arrived at Westchester County Airport.
Antonio wants everyone to see that his sons are healthy teens, and that they're here for one reason.
"I just want my children to come and study. To have opportunities here and work. They are going to have a better life," he says.
Antonio's sons were on similar flights to the ones that caused such a furor in Westchester. They too spent time at a migrant shelter down South before being reunited.
They were just 15 and 16 years old when they made the perilous journey from Guatemala to the Texas border.
"I didn't want them to come, I told them no. Because it's too dangerous," he says.
And it was dangerous, says Antonio's son, Ervin.
"When we were coming, the cartel showed up one day, they killed one of the immigrants," says Ervin.
The controversy over migrant family reunification in the Hudson Valley may be new, but the process is not, says managing attorney at Neighbors Link Law Practice Elizabeth Mastropolo.
"This is something we have seen for many years under many different administrations," says Mastropolo.
Ervin confirmed he was tested for COVID-19 before he was released.
While teens like him are seen as part of a problem, Mastropolo says the focus should be on their safety.
"These children are coming to the United States in order to be protected," says Mastropolo.
Republican Assemblyman Colin Schmitt, who's been critical of the reunification process, said in a statement, "With more than 200,000 illegal border crossings last month alone, the Biden Administration has created a national crisis at our southern border, which cannot be solved by exporting it to the Hudson Valley."
Westchester County Executive George Latimer, who is a Democrat, says, "Questions about how it's - meaning the reunification process- is implemented are certainly questions to be discussed on the federal level."
He added: "There is a human side as well. The reuniting of families is a good side of the story and it's important to understand we are dealing with human beings not statistics."