NYC Mayor announces relief centers to support Caribbean asylum seekers

September 28, 2022
Contributed photo

EW YORK, Sept 28, CMC – New York City Mayor, Eric Adams, says the city will open Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Centers to support the hundreds of asylum seekers, including Caribbean nationals, primarily Haitians, arriving in New York City each day from Texas and other border states.

As several asylum seekers are sent to New York City, Adams said these humanitarian relief centers will provide assistance to newly arriving individuals and families, and ensure they continue to be connected to the full range of services and supports they need.

In addition to, if needed, Adams said the centers will provide direct referrals to alternative emergency supports or city shelter.

“More than 100 years ago, Ellis Island opened its doors to welcome in those ‘yearning to breathe free.’ Now, more than ever, it’s clear that we are again dealing with a humanitarian crisis created by human hands.

“While other leaders have abdicated their moral duty to support arriving asylum seekers, New York City refuses to do so. This is not an everyday homelessness crisis but a humanitarian crisis that requires a different approach. That’s why the Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Centers will be the first touch point for asylum seekers that will provide them with a range of services and support as families determine their next steps,” Adams said.

But Murad Awawdeh, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), an umbrella policy and advocacy organisation that represents over 200 immigrant and refugee rights groups throughout New York,  urged Adams to reconsider establishing the relief centers.

“While we recognise there is urgency in meeting the very real needs of asylum-seeking families, while our shelter system remains over-burdened, we believe that any effort to open a temporary relief camp at Orchard Beach is ridiculous and likely to cause more harm than good, especially as the fall turns into winter,” he told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC).

“This centre raises serious concerns relating to access to transportation, care, and other supports that people need to get back on their feet, and to fully integrate into our city.

“Moreover, we fear that what was meant to be a temporary solution will become an inadequate permanent one, which will lead to long-term negative impacts on the individuals housed there, as well as becoming a stain on New York City’s reputation as a welcoming city.

“Until the Adams administration provides an updated and concrete written plan that allows for input from organisation's like ours, public health, and housing experts – to ensure the health and safety of all residents – we cannot endorse this effort,” he told CMC.

But Adams said the emergency response represents “what we know must be done during this humanitarian crisis, as we continue to seek assistance from our federal and state partners to continue this work.

“Like the generations that came to our city before, New York will provide the thousands now coming to our city with the foundation to build a better life.”

Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Anne Williams-Isom said this  is a humanitarian crisis that requires a new approach designed specifically to best assist those coming to the city.

“The Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Centers will have services tailored to the asylum seeker population, including providing settlement options, as well as legal information and health and safety supports,” she said.

“In this unprecedented time, we’re laser focused on supporting the parents, children and individuals who deserve compassion and support, and these centers are one piece of our work to do just that.”

New York City Department of Emergency Management (NYCEM) Commissioner Zach Iscol said that, as hundreds of migrants continue to enter New York City each day, “we must take steps to ensure their health and safety as well as maintain our ability to provide essential services.

“That’s why we’re proud to announce the launch of the Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Centers. These centers will provide services such as wellness checks and temporary shelter when individuals and families first come to the city”.

The mayor said asylum seekers who do not or cannot find immediate housing will stay at humanitarian relief centers for about 24 to 96 hours.

“The additional assessment time will ensure asylum seekers understand their options and can get to their desired destination quickly and smoothly,” he said.

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