‘I cannot stay here’: Migrants placed in new NYC shelter refuse to stay, demand better accommodations

News & Politics

The first group of migrants to arrive at a newly opened New York City shelter this weekend refused to stay and instead demanded better accommodations from the city, the New York Post reported.

On Sunday, the city bused a group of migrants to Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn. The airfield was recently converted into a makeshift tent city by Democratic Governor Eric Adams’ administration to provide additional housing to the more than 65,000 migrants using the city’s overwhelmed shelter system.

The Post reported that the first busload of migrants who arrived at the airfield Sunday afternoon refused to stay.

One individual told the news outlet, “We weren’t told where we were going.”

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“I work in the Bronx. My kids go to school in the Bronx. For us to live out here is ridiculous,” he continued. “We’re going back.”

Another migrant told the Post that he and his family had been residing at the Roosevelt Hotel in Manhattan before being bused to Floyd Bennett Field.

“They are going to take us back to the train so we can go back to 45th Street,” he told the Post. “We didn’t know we were coming here. They just said they were taking us to a shelter.”

“I cannot stay here,” he added. The migrant called the city’s makeshift accommodations “crazy.”

Many local politicians have also questioned the mayor’s decision to convert the remote airfield into a shelter due to its location and fire safety concerns. The closest fire hydrants are a half-mile away and “not reliable,” according to NYC fire officials. Additionally, the city plans to provide migrants with e-bikes, which use lithium-ion batteries that have been known to spark fires.

The shelter is slated to accommodate approximately 2,000 migrants.

Brooklyn Democratic State Assemblywoman Jaime Williams stated that an individual with NYC’s Health & Hospitals system told her that the migrants left the shelter because “they were scared.”

“They weren’t sure what they were doing here. They don’t want to be here, and they asked to leave,” Williams said.

According to Williams, the migrants complained that the location was “so isolated” that it would be challenging to obtain transportation back and forth from work and get children to school. She claimed it was “a disaster waiting to happen.”

“It’s one of the coldest days so far. There’s going to be a frost tonight,” Williams continued. “It’s not the ideal location for anyone to live. There’s no supermarket. There’s no infrastructure.”

Williams plans to ask for the city to revoke the lease.

Republican Representative Bruce Westerman of Arkansas also expressed concerns about using the airfield as a tent city. Seemingly adopting Democratic talking points, he said the location is not “a place to temporarily or permanently encamp persons experiencing a lack of housing.”

Former Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo slammed the Adams administration’s decision, saying that using the airfield as a shelter “defies common sense.”

One of the bus drivers who transported the migrants to the new shelter stated that workers “were shocked when they turned around and left.”

“Only a few people stayed. We didn’t see that coming,” the driver said.

Adams administration told the Post that migrants who arrived at the shelter on subsequent buses agreed to stay at the location.

A spokesperson for Adams stated, “As we have said time and time again, more than 139,500 asylum seekers have moved through our intake system since the spring of 2022, all of whom have been offered vital services.”

“But with more than 65,600 migrants still currently in our care, and thousands more continuing to arrive every week, we have used every possible corner of New York City and are quite simply out of good options to shelter migrants,” the spokesperson added.

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