Mayor’s office slams White House over refugees’ access to health care

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City officials are up in arms about President Donald Trump’s health care policies toward unaccompanied immigrant and refugee children.

This comes five months after the international charity Oxfam invited refugees to Trump’s Jamaica Estates childhood home as a way to call out his ban keeping certain refugees out of the country, according to the non-profit.

Trump eventually lifted the ban, on Tuesday; however, according to the mayor’s office, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement has inhibited access to constitutionally mandated health care for unaccompanied immigrant children and refugees in federal custody.

The main point of contention between Trump and city officials is the denial of access to abortion for the young detained immigrant and refugee women, some of who were victims of rape.

“To President Trump and your entire administration: keep your politics out of our health care,” said Chirlane McCray, New York City’s first lady. “No girl or woman should be forced to carry a pregnancy to term against her will. Refusing detained immigrant youth — many of whom have already suffered unspeakable trauma — access to the health care they need is a clear violation of their rights, with serious consequences for their physical and mental well-being.”

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sent a letter about the issue to E. Scott Lloyd, director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

“Unaccompan­ied minors who arrive in the United States often are fleeing threats to their life and safety in their countries of origin,” Schneiderman said. “Some of them may be victims of sexual assault or abuse, or have significant medical issues.”

In the era of #MeToo, Bitta Mostofi, acting commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, believes it is unfair for these young women to be denied access to an abortion.

“This month there were reports of a fourth unaccompanied minor in federal custody who was refused access to abortion services by the Trump Administration. E. Scott Lloyd and his collaborators in the Trump White House should be held to account for this affront to women’s rights, immigrants’ rights, and the rights of those in detention,” Mostofi said. “We need the U.S. Department of Health to do its job and uphold the basic right to health care access for everyone in this country, instead of systematically denying it.”

McCray believes that the background of different individuals shouldn’t determine their access to health care.

“Our leaders in Washington should value and protect these fundamental rights,” McCray said.

Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at or by phone at (718) 260–4573.

Posted 12:00 am, February 2, 2018
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