Support for refugees: New York's new refugee housing rules have sparked public outrage
Since tens of thousands of migrants began arriving in New York City last year, the city has been looking for hundreds of places to house them. Now, there are no more places left. Find out why the number of refugees in New York City has suddenly increased and where they plan to accommodate them
The number of asylum seekers in New York has reached almost a critical limit. There are no free accommodation facilities for refugees left in the city. The authorities decided to temporarily house people in school gymnasiums, because the end of the school year is a few weeks away.
This proposal outraged the public. Parents of students of several schools came to the protests, threatening not to let their children go to school when migrants are settled there. Human rights defenders also spoke out, believing that such conditions are unacceptable for housing people.
Why did the number of refugees in New York suddenly increase?
As of May 12, 2023, Title 42 of the US immigration law, which was related to the pandemic, ceased to be in effect: all restrictions on crossing the US border due to the epidemic of COVID-19 were canceled. While this amendment was in effect, border guards could refuse to cross the border to refugees who showed signs of infectious diseases.
Also before repealing Section 42, the US government enacted new immigration policy rules to prevent people from simply arriving at the border, instead encouraging them to use one of the pathways the US created to facilitate migration. The new rules scared migrants, so in the first weeks of May, the number of migrants at the border increased significantly.
Many refugees are headed specifically to New York, because the city has a regulation that requires the authorities to provide housing for every asylum seeker. Not all US cities have such a law.
Last week alone, about 4,200 migrants sought places in New York shelters.
Where do they plan to accommodate the refugees?
According to the mayor of New York, Eric Adams, twenty school gymnasiums are currently being considered for temporary accommodation of refugees. At least one of them, in the Coney Island neighborhood of Brooklyn, was already hosting the first migrants on Tuesday.
What is important is the fact that people will live in gyms for a short period of time until they find permanent housing. Only sports halls located in separate buildings from the school are considered for accommodation.
What other unconventional ideas have New York officials considered for housing refugees?
New York City authorities have already struck a deal to turn the shuttered historic hotel into a 1,000-room shelter.
Migrants were housed at the New York Police Academy and petitioned the federal government to reopen the former military airfield.
Also, the New York authorities organized the evacuation of refugees to the northern outskirts of the state, which angered the local authorities.
Reaction of human rights defenders
Lawyers of the Legal Aid Society closely monitor the city's attitude towards refugees. Lawyers believe that accommodation in sports halls has certain disadvantages: in some school gyms there is no access to a shower, and also the requirements for comfortable accommodation of people with disabilities are not met.
What is the situation in other regions of the USA?
Chicago also has irregular refugee housing, hundreds of migrants who arrived in the city since mid-April have been sleeping on the floor of city police stations. In May, the city turned several children's centers into "temporary refugee centers," canceling or rescheduling summer programs, angering some parents.
In Denver, Colorado, new arrivals are being denied housing altogether due to overcrowded shelters.
How does the New York government plan to solve the crisis?
New York City Mayor Eric Adams has appealed to the federal government for help in both providing funding to the city and slowing border entry. The head of the city also asks New Yorkers to treat the emerging crisis with respect.
In turn, most of the arriving migrants said that they sought to find work and legally live and work in the United States.
The leadership of New York hopes to resolve the issue of refugee accommodation in the near future.
Photo: HENRY NICHOLLS / REUTERS
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