New York City opening 'humanitarian relief centers' for asylum seekers amid surge of migrant buses

Adams says things wouldn't be this dire had the city been given the chance to coordinate and communicate with the Texas governor.

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Friday, September 23, 2022
NYC opening 'humanitarian relief centers' for asylum seekers
Mayor Eric Adams said New York City will open humanitarian relief centers for asylum seekers arriving in the city. Lucy Yang has the details.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- New York City is announcing plans to open new humanitarian relief centers for the asylum seekers arriving in the city from Texas and other border states.

Mayor Eric Adams says buses carrying migrants will be rerouted from Port Authority to the centers or sent directly there.

He indicated the idea was only in the planning stages but said people will be offered shelter, food, medical care, case worker and legal services.

Asylum seekers who don't find immediate housing can stay at the relief centers for 24 to 96 hours.

"More than 100 years ago, Ellis Island opened its doors to welcome in those 'yearning to breathe free,'" Adams said. "Now, more than ever, it's clear that we are again dealing with a humanitarian crisis created by human hands. While other leaders have abdicated their moral duty to support arriving asylum seekers, New York City refuses to do so."

NYCEM and H+H will operate the Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Centers and partner with other city agencies, as well as contracted partners and providers, to provide comprehensive on-site services and referrals.

Two centers will open in the coming weeks. Orchard Beach will open first, serving adults, and a second location is still being finalized.

Additional humanitarian relief centers may be opened in the coming weeks, as needed, and will be designed and built as climate-controlled safe spaces.

"This is not an everyday homelessness crisis, but a humanitarian crisis that requires a different approach," Adams said. "That's why the Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Centers will be the first touchpoint for asylum seekers that will provide them with a range of services and support as families determine their next steps. This emergency response represents what we know must be done during this humanitarian crisis, as we continue to seek assistance from our federal and state partners to continue this work. Like the generations that came to our city before, New York will provide the thousands now coming to our city with the foundation to build a better life."

The Legal Aid Society and Coalition for the Homeless released a joint statement expressing concerns about the plan.

"We have asked the city a series of questions about this proposal and await their responses," the statement said. "However, we are deeply concerned with any scenario in which families with children would be relegated to congregate settings. This practice, which has been widely condemned for its adverse and dangerous impact on this uniquely vulnerable population, is already subject to legal prohibitions. That said, we remain willing to work with the city on a viable solution that satisfies New York's legal and moral obligation to provide safe and adequate shelter to all who seek it, including asylum seekers."

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

Eyewitness News investigative reporter Kristin Thorne went to the Port Authority bus terminal recently to watch how newly-arrived asylum seekers were processed in New York City.


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