Aug 20, 2023
New York City Officials Again Float Idea of Tent Cities at Central Park To Cope With Influx of Migrants
‘Everyone needs to speak loud and clear that New Yorkers will not tolerate their city being used as one giant homeless shelter for Central America,’ one New York City council member says. With images
‘Everyone needs to speak loud and clear that New Yorkers will not tolerate their city being used as one giant homeless shelter for Central America,’ one New York City council member says.
With images of asylum seekers sleeping on the sidewalks of Midtown Manhattan flooding social media, Mayor Adams is reportedly reviving a plan that would see refugees housed in tents at some of New York City’s most iconic green spaces, such as Central Park and Prospect Park at Brooklyn.
While the mayor would not confirm when asked about the reports Thursday, several press outlets — among them, Bloomberg and Gothamist — are reporting that city officials are considering erecting tents in parks to house some of the roughly 95,000 asylum seekers who have arrived at New York in recent months.
The idea, which was first floated in late spring, is among a number of measures being considered by the city to handle the influx. A deputy mayor, Anne Williams-Isom, said at a press conference Wednesday that “everything is on the table.” She said the city is considering as many as 3,000 sites to help handle the overflow.
The crisis reached a crescendo this week at Manhattan’s Roosevelt Hotel, which has been set up as a processing center for migrants arriving from the southern border. The hotel is at capacity, and dozens of migrants were sleeping on sidewalks outside the hotel for several nights running until the city moved them elsewhere Thursday. Another makeshift migrant encampment under the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway across the East River was dismantled by city officials last month.
Of the migrants who have come to New York, according to the mayor’s office, as many as 56,000 are still in the city’s care. Dozens of what the city is calling “migrant respite centers” have been set up across the city to house and feed the newcomers at everything from old prisons to churches to fitness centers. The Manhattan borough president, Mark Levine, said the city is getting desperate.
“We are at the desperation stage,” Mr. Levine told the New York Times. “We’re going to have to make more and more difficult decisions on siting facilities that at this point are all going to disrupt some aspect of life here.”
The migrants have been drawn to the city after word circulated in the camps along the U.S.-Mexico border that the city was offering free food and shelter to all comers. New York is the only city in the country that has a “right to shelter” law that obliges it to provide housing for anyone who requests it.
Mr. Adams, a Democrat, has openly sparred with the Biden administration over its policy of allowing tens of thousands of asylum seekers into the country in recent months under a humanitarian parole program. Migrants who make an appointment via a mobile phone app called CBP One are interviewed at the port of entry and released pending a later hearing — often years later — on their asylum application.
Last month, Mr. Adams sent staffers to the southern border to hand out fliers to migrants massed there, stating that shelter will no longer be guaranteed in the city and reminding them that living costs in America’s largest city are inflated. The fliers urged them to consider other cities.
A Democratic council member of New York, Robert Holden, echoed the mayor’s frustration in an opinion article in Thursday’s New York Post. He said New York’s eagerness to frame itself as a “sanctuary city” contributed to the current catastrophe but he placed overall blame for the situation squarely on the shoulders of President Biden and what he called the administration’s “open border policies.”
“In his first year in office, Biden issued nearly 300 executive orders tied to immigration, which were designed to make it easier for anyone to come into our country,” Mr. Holden wrote. He said the state’s Democratic congressional delegation has been largely silent on the issue and needs to “take responsibility and join us in pressuring President Biden to send New York the resources necessary to manage the crisis while closing the border to future migrants.”
“Everyone needs to speak loud and clear that New Yorkers will not tolerate their city being used as one giant homeless shelter for Central America,” he said.