Feds pay Long Island nonprofit to house immigrant kids

Originally published: July 26, 2014 7:31 PM
Updated: July 26, 2014 8:44 PM
By VÍCTOR MANUEL RAMOS victor.ramos@newsday.com

This is the campus of the nonprofit MercyFirst in Syosset July 26, 2014. Unaccompanied immigrant children are being sent to MercyFirst, which runs shelters for children. (Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams, Jr.)

Immigrant children from the influx of unaccompanied minors at the United States' border with Mexico are being sent to a Long Island nonprofit that runs shelters for children and has its main housing complex in Syosset, records from the national Administration for Children and Families show.

The federal agency, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, issued $4.1 million in three payments since last year to MercyFirst -- a social service agency founded as an orphanage by the Sisters of Mercy in 1894 that houses and assists abused and neglected children.

MercyFirst's involvement began before the surge of border children became a politically charged crisis. As the shelter program on Long Island has moved quietly forward, similar arrangements have fed acrimonious debate in communities around the country where residents opposed housing immigrant kids.