Weekly The Generation, Year 1, Issue 15
December 12, 2023
In a defining image of New York’s migrant crisis, scores of asylum seekers slept on the pavement outside the migrant processing center at the Roosevelt Hotel in Midtown last summer. When the temperatures plunge this winter, any similar breakdowns could prove much more dire. As the city’s asylum seeker challenge deepens, the mercury dips and new shelter deadlines approach for the arrivals.
New York City currently has about 67,000 asylum seekers in its care, according to Mayor Adams’ office, up by about 20,000 since the start of the summer.
Last month, images began to emerge of bundled-up migrants waiting outside a former Catholic school in Manhattan’s East Village that has been transformed into a reticketing site. Harvey Epstein, the local assemblyman, said outdoor lines massing in the morning made for a recurring issue during the last week of November at the site, the St. Brigid School.
The city said it would make special efforts to keep lines indoors at the reticketing center, rearranging the site to offer more space inside, and introducing a system allowing migrants to leave without losing their spot in line.
Carlina Rivera, the local city councilwoman, said the overwhelming majority of the thousand or so migrants at the station were looking for a place to stay in the city, not a ticket out of town.
The mayor’s office said it has spent nearly $3 billion to support the arrivals, opening up more than 210 emergency shelters, including controversial far-flung, tent-style megashelters in eastern Queens and southern Brooklyn. And Adams has pushed for more financial support from the state, which has pledged about $2 billion, and, especially, from the federal government, which has committed around $140 million.
Mamelak declined to detail any contingency plans the administration has developed in case asylum seekers wind up on the street during the winter, saying the city is focused foremost on keeping asylum seekers inside.
The city, which is backed by Gov. Kathy Hochul’s administration in the court endeavor to freeze the right to shelter, has landed in mediation with the Legal Aid Society, which opposes the suspension. Hochul, a moderate Democrat, has said the right to shelter is “not sustainable” given the crisis. The Coalition for the Homeless and the Legal Aid Society held rallies in lower Manhattan and Albany supporting the right to shelter on Tuesday, the 44th anniversary of the landmark Manhattan Supreme Court ruling that found the right in the state Constitution.
Hochul’s spokesman Avi Small responded sharply to the rally, suggesting that critics of the governor spend their time assisting her efforts to accelerate work permitting for asylum seekers. Small said in a statement that if advocates “focused their resources on helping with work authorization paperwork rather than wasting time on political stunts, it’s likely more migrants would have achieved legal work status and exited shelters.”
Josh Goldfein, a Legal Aid lawyer, warned in court papers before the right-to-shelter case went to mediation that a suspension could put migrants and long-term homeless New Yorkers at “risk of bodily harm and death” this winter.
Source: Tim Balk/New York Daily News