This summary about newly arrived immigrants and the proposed Orchard Beach migrant relief center was featured in Documented’s Early Arrival newsletter. You can subscribe to receive it in your inbox three times per week here.
Advocates, city officials and others testified Friday at a New York City Council hearing concerning City resources for asylum seekers. The Committee on Immigration led the marathon meeting which lasted more than five hours.
The hearing covered a wide range of topics: Those who testified discussed services for recent arrivals including questions surrounding mental health support, conditions at city shelters, the proposed relief center for immigrants in Orchard Beach and accessible legal assistance.
Council Member Shahana Hanif, the chair of the Committee on Immigration, pressed officials about the conditions at the proposed Orchard Beach center, and questioned whether the center would meet the City’s right to shelter mandate.
“This is being done with seemingly little, if any, planning or collaboration with elected officials, other community representatives, impacted people, stakeholders, or even their own agency personnel,” Hanif said about the facility at the beginning of the hearing. “We are in an emergency, there’s no doubt. But I want to make it clear, this is not how we address the thousands of people coming to our city as asylum seekers.”
The center is likely to open this week, Zachary Iscol, the Commissioner for the Office of Emergency Management, said. It will be operated by Emergency Management and New York City Health + Hospitals.
Will it meet the City’s right to shelter requirements?: Hanif asked Iscol to respond on the record, “yes or no,” if the Orchard Beach facility would meet the City’s right to shelter requirements. Iscol would not respond to the question directly. “The facility is not a homeless shelter. The facility is a humanitarian emergency response and relief center,” Iscol said.
The Orchard Beach center will operate as a temporary stay for newly arrived immigrants while they look for their next steps, whether that’s a shelter or re-ticketing to another place completely, Isco said. The facility will provide hot meals, case management services, coordination for transportation to the shelter system, physical and mental health resources, and other aid, officials said at the hearing. Cots at the center will be separated — single men will be placed in one area, single women in another, and couples will stay in yet another. About 1,000 people will be able to stay there at any given time.
A spike in population at NYC shelters: Molly Wasow Park, the first deputy commissioner at the Department of Homeless Services, said the agency had seen a 30% increase in residents over the past six months. Typically, the 30th Street intake center in Manhattan had seen sixty people a night, Park said. But now, as asylum seekers have arrived, about 300-500 have come through on a single day, she said.
“Our intake centers were not designed for what we are seeing,” she said.
Park said the agency had launched a streamlined intake site for asylum seekers on a small scale as of Friday, but that it should be fully up and running by mid-October.
Safety complaints at NYC shelters: Advocates working directly with asylum seekers said they were often fielding calls and requests for help from asylum seekers who felt unsafe at shelters, could not access Spanish-language services, had no transportation access to shelters, and reported inedible food, among other challenges.
“There’s nothing humanitarian about the existing shelter system, and the plan to place migrants in outdoor tents and flood zones as temperature drops is cruel and potentially fatal,” said Ariadna Phillips, with South Bronx Mutual Aid. “We are here to say our city must do better.”
Reporting and Writing by Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio, Documented’s Immigration Enforcement Reporter via Report for America.
STORIES WE ARE FOLLOWING
How to use ICE’s detainee locator system: Documented’s latest resource focuses on how to find a family member detained by immigration authorities at the border. — Read here
Hotel in Queens, used as homeless shelter for families, now only for single unhoused men: The transition happened last month and Community Board 2 chair Morry Galonoy said they were notified only after it went into effect. Residents have shared mixed opinions. — Sunnyside Post
Hotel near Madison Square Garden converted into intake and assessment center for asylum seekers: There are rooms for nearly 300 families and single adults. It will be run by Acacia Network, a nonprofit that the city has repeatedly worked with in recent months. — City Limits
Emergency food programs say babies & toddlers of asylum seekers are going hungry: Some NYC homeless shelters appear to not be providing baby food or formula or enough milk. Many families shared their struggles as kids are getting hungrier. — NBC New York
Orchard Beach migrant tent encampment flooded after rain: South Bronx Mutual Aid shared a video of the flooding at the tent, which SLSCO, a company that was also contracted to build the Texas border wall, is working on. — Watch here
Food vendors feel punished for not having permits even as they lack access: The vendors marched outside City Hall on Thursday, saying a new law to shift enforcement from the police to the Department of Health has made things worse. — THE CITY
Hochul announces launch of immigration integration research institute: The institute aims to help immigrants transition to community life, further their education, and join the workforce. — Read more
Around the U.S.
Abbott, O’Rourke expected to debate immigration in race for Texas governor: The busing of migrants, could give the Democrat Beto O’Rourke an opportunity to launch into Gov. Greg Abbott, says a political scientist. — Texas Tribune
Biden admin. sued for failing to disclose treatment of Haitians in Del Rio: Haitian Bridge Alliance, African Communities Together and Undocublack Network filed the suit, demanding an urgent need for transparency. — The Hill