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New York asylum crisis worsening

17 August 20230 comments

New York City is struggling to cope with the demand of supporting tens of thousands of asylum seekers who have arrived in the city.

The city’s mayor Eric Adams has called for federal government assistance with 57,200 asylum seekers currently in the city’s care and after almost 100,000 migrants arrived since May.

“We’re at capacity. We have been providing those food, shelter, clothing, food, educating children, making sure they get the level of dignity they deserve. But we cannot kid ourselves,” Mr Adams told local media.

Asylum seekers arriving in New York come from all over the world, but mostly from Latin American countries plagued by gang violence and economic hardship.

Around 3,000 asylum seekers are being housed in central Manhattan at the Roosevelt Hotel, which also serves as an intake centred for the migrants.

Lines of about 130 asylum seekers waiting to be processed were recently seen around the hotel, before they were moved to a local church.

Some of the asylum seekers have come from Texas as part of Governor Greg Abbott’s controversial scheme to bus migrants to so-called sanctuary cities, such as New York, Los Angeles and Portland.

Mayor Adams has criticized Governor Abbott’s plan.

“It’s dehumanizing to treat fellow human beings in this magnitude as political stunts, it’s a wrong thing to do. And I say that with a clear understanding, no city should be going through this,” Mayor Adams said.

Asylum seekers in the US can apply for a work permit between five and six months after they submit their asylum applications.

But many do not have permanent addresses, making the asylum process complicated.

Mayor Adams has called on the federal government to expediting that process.

“Every migrant I heard from, they said, ‘We don’t want your free food. We don’t want you to clothe us. We don’t want you to wash our clothing. We don’t want you to give us anything. We want to work’,” he said.

“All we need is the White House to give us that TPS (temporary protected status) to allow the men and women to work. The congressional delegation is calling for it. Local leaders are calling for it. Everyone is calling for it. It is something within our powers and there’s no reason we’re not doing it,” Mayor Adams said.

In a recent public address Mayor Adams described the situation as an “unprecedented state of emergency”.

“My fellow New Yorkers, immigration is the New York City story. It is the American story. It is a story of those who board its ships to reach these shores, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” he said.

“For centuries, immigrants have made that remarkable journey, that leap of faith, searching for freedom, safety, a shot at the American Dream. And the asylum seekers who have arrived in our city since last spring are writing a new chapter in this timeless story.

“But as I declared nearly a year ago, we are facing an unprecedented state of emergency. The immigration system in this nation is broken. It has been broken for decades.

“Today, New York City has been left to pick up the pieces. Since last year, nearly 100,000 asylum seekers have arrived in our city asking for shelter. Let me repeat. Almost 100,000 men, women, and children have asked for a place to stay. That’s almost the population of Albany, New York.

“And for more than a year, thousands of people across this administration, and more than 100 community-based organisations, have worked tirelessly to ensure that every person who has arrived here gets the opportunity to build their New York City dream.

“They do not have the authorisation to work, so we have to provide shelter. We have supplied food and access to healthcare. We have enrolled children in schools. We have opened almost 200 emergency sites, including more than a dozen large scale humanitarian relief centres. And we have assisted migrants with asylum applications.

But we are past our breaking point. New Yorkers’ compassion may be limitless, but our resources are not. And our partners at the state and federal levels know this. We continue to face impossible decisions about allocating our resources, and that means a lose-lose for our most vulnerable New Yorkers as well as those seeking asylum,” Mayor Adams said.