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New York launches bold strategy to support asylum seekers

30 March 20230 comments

New York will open a new facility to welcome migrants and create a new agency to coordinate efforts to deal with the arrival of thousands of asylum seekers,

New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced the 24-hour centre after more than 50,000 asylum seekers have arrived in New York City in the past year, with 8,000 arriving in the past month.

About 30,000 of the new arrivals are in city shelters. The city has already tried tents, opened half a dozen hotels and suggested the idea of cruise ships to house newcomers.

It has opened welcome centres, contracted not-for-profit organisation and pleaded with state and federal governments for help.

The plan was announced as US President Joe Biden faces an immigration crisis, as people fleeing violence and economic problems in central and south gather at the southern border.

The newly formed Office of Asylum Seeker Operations will coordinate the New York’s efforts to house migrants and provide them with access to legal services in one place, moving migrants away from the current arrival point at the city’s bus terminal.

The city’s plan also includes coordinating with other cities willing to accept asylum seekers and creating a partnership with the State University of New York, which has agreed to take in 100 asylum seekers who would live on the school’s campus and receive workforce training skills.

New York has long been famous for welcoming migrants but the recent arrivals of new migrants, mostly from Latin America, has pushed the population of the city’s homeless shelter system to record levels and stretched services to capacity.

One reason New York is under strain is because the city is required by law to give shelter to anyone who requests it.

Mayor Adams said that the plan was part of an effort to create a strong structure to deal with a complicated issue, not a plan to shut anyone out.

“We will make sure all those who want to assist the asylum seekers get an opportunity to do so,” the mayor said.

The city estimates that it will spend more than $US4 billion to house and care for migrants in fiscal years 2023 and 2024.

New York State has pledged $US1 billion over the next two fiscal years and the city is expected to receive a large chunk of $800 million allocated by the federal government to help localities deal with the migrant crisis.