Over the past few days, asylum seekers from all over Latin America have been facing difficult living conditions after they were recently bused from Texas and other states to New York City and dropped off without clear instructions or assistance. While many have been able to sleep in emergency shelters and hotels like the Staten Island Inn, Holiday Inn, Fairfield Inn, and Suites Marriott, local communities lack the resources to sustainably support them long-term. The population of Latin American refugees in NYC currently numbers in the thousands, with even more buses to come. Because of the lack of immediate resources, many have even been forced to go door-to-door seeking shelter, food, medical care, and jobs, according to the New York Post.
“We do not have clothing and are not eating well — we need a place to work,” Geraldine Silva from Venezuela told the NY Post. She was transported from El Paso, Texas and has been staying at the Staten Island Inn for a week, but, like many asylum seekers, doesn’t have warm clothes in preparation for the New York winter.
Instead, many have been relying on generosity and donations from local neighborhoods, communities, and businesses for all their necessities rather than government-provided resources for clothes and food, which speaks volumes about the city’s priorities and lack of funds dedicated to migrant support. Even finding jobs has been close to impossible, since businesses won’t be able to hire them without papers.
Many of these migrants are seeking refuge from economic collapse and violence in their home countries, or simply a better life for their families. Many are in New York because of Greg Abbott, the Republican governor of Texas, who had them bused to Vice President Kamala Harris’s home in DC and Martha’s Vineyard as a political protest against Democrats’ immigration policies in mid-September. Still, the attitudes of locals about the sudden influx have been mixed, which some even demanding that they be transported to another state altogether.
In response to the influx, the mayor of New York, Eric Adams, declared a state of emergency last Friday and has erected tent shelters in parking lots beside Icahn Stadium on Randall’s Island in New York County. This has generated controversy since plenty of hotels with open rooms remain . But it’s unknown what the next step of Adams’ plan is or what the future of these migrants will be.
“This is a humanitarian crisis that started with violence and instability in South America and is being accelerated by American political dynamics. Thousands of asylum seekers have been bused into New York City and simply dropped off, without notice, coordination, or care — and more are arriving every day,” Adams said in a statement.
The city’s main shelter system stood at 61,379 last Thursday and at least nine more migrant buses arrived that Friday, the New York Times reported. Roughly 17,000 migrants, many fleeing Venezuela, have arrived in the city since April. As of last Sunday, 12,700 of the migrants were in shelters the city shared, according to the Times. Abbott has spent around $14 million sending more than 10,000 migrants to cities including Washington, D.C., New York and Chicago, the Texas Tribune reported.
“Before we came here, we were told that a social worker would come and help us. But most of what she tell us is, ‘I don’t have that information for you,'” Enrique Reynoso, a migrant from the Dominican Republic, told the NY Post. “Our main priority is knowing where we can take our baby to the doctor if he gets sick, where he can go to school, how I can get a job. We were told before we arrived here that we would only be staying here for five days, but some of the others here have said they’ve been here for 15 days and still haven’t been told what the next steps would be.”