NYC 'nearing its breaking point' amid influx of migrants, reassessing longstanding procedures

At least 11,000 asylum seekers have arrived in NYC since May, most of them bused in from Texas.

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Thursday, September 15, 2022
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New York City is reassessing longstanding procedures related to a law requiring the shelter of undomiciled people following an influx of migrants. Kristin Thorne has the story.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- New York City is "reassessing" longstanding procedures that stem from a law requiring the city to shelter undomiciled people, following an influx of more than 11,000 asylum seekers who have been bused from Texas, the mayor's chief counsel said Thursday.

Brenda McGuire made the comments after touring the city's first Asylum Seeker Resource Navigation Center, which opened to help immigrants navigate the legal and education systems.

"We are reassessing the city's practices with respect to the right to shelter," she said. "It is important, because we don't exist in a vacuum, to reconsider the practices that the city developed that flow from the right to shelter."

McGuire declined to elaborate what, specifically, might need to change, but the city's prior practices involving mainly people experiencing homelessness "never contemplated the busing of thousands of people into New York," Mayor Eric Adams said earlier this week. "We expect thousands more to arrive every week going forward. The city's system is nearing its breaking point."

ALSO READ | Tracing the steps of asylum seekers as they settle in New York City

The comments followed the failure of the city's shelter system to offer beds to 60 men who arrived Monday at the men's intake shelter on East 30th Street.

The mayor and his chief counsel have each stressed the city is not reneging on the obligation to shelter, which has been guaranteed by the courts for three dozen years.

"There's no ambiguity there, so it's an important distinction," McGuire said. "We are not reassessing the right to shelter. We are reassessing (the) practices around the right to shelter."

Homeless advocates, though, aren't so sure, and they warned the mayor not to end any practice that would force people onto the streets.

"Challenging the right to shelter is dangerous," the Safety Net Project of the Urban Justice Center wrote on Twitter. "Without this right, tens of thousands of people will be on the street."

Eyewitness News spoke with several migrants who were not able to get help at the resource center Thursday because they didn't have an appointment. They were asked to return on September 26.

"I understand the situation," migrant Balbino Nieves said. "There are so many immigrants."

Nieves came to the resource center primarily looking for clothes and shoes, but they did not have any there for him. Eyewitness News spoke with several migrants, in fact, who came to the center desperate for clothes or shoes, but left empty-handed.

Manuel Castro, the head of the city's Office of Immigrant Affairs, said migrants should be receiving those supplies at the shelters.

He said every migrant will get an appointment to come to the resource center or satellite centers that the city is in the process of creating.

At least 11,000 asylum seekers have arrived in New York City since May, many of them bused in from Texas, though the city has no official way of tracking exactly how many migrants arrive and by what means.

The city says they are aware that migrants have been arriving on their own in commercial buses from DC, and that if they arrive and go straight to friends and family or do not go to intake centers, there is now way to include those individuals in the total count.

However, of the 11,600 who have been enrolled in shelters, approximately 8,500 remain.

"There should be a pathway to allow them to (receive) housing and understand the American way of life, educate the children...do it in a very humane fashion," Mayor Adams said. "What is taking place in Texas right now with Governor (Greg) Abbott is despicable. It is anti-everything we are as Americans."

The city is now operating 23 shelters - up from 15, as the city reported to Eyewitness News last week.

RELATED | NYC unveils school plan for asylum seekers bused in from Texas

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