(Steve Bittenbender, The Center Square) With New York City still receiving busloads of illegal immigrants, Mayor Eric Adams has announced the city will set up massive tent structures to provide shelter for them.
Adams, in a statement, said the tents will be the “first touchpoint for asylum seekers,” with officials providing a litany of services for them. He added that it is not like the city’s homeless crisis but instead compared it to the immigrants who came to Ellis Island on boats more than a century ago.
“This 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,” Adams said.
“Like the generations that came to our city before, [N.Y.] will provide the thousands now coming to our city with the foundation to build a better life.”
Adams previously considered sheltering those individuals on cruise ships.
The move comes as Republican governors from southern border states have bused illegal immigrants to N.Y. and other so-called sanctuary cities where Democrats are in control after getting their consent.
The city plans on buses to go directly to the tent communities or be directed there by the Port Authority. The new arrivals will receive information about health care, safety and their legal rights.
“We need to assess and address asylum seekers’ needs as soon as they arrive and connect them with services as quickly as possible,” Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Philip Banks said.
“The relief centers will be a crucial piece of our overall response to help these asylum seekers get their necessary assistance.”
Those who do not or cannot find a place to stay will be allowed to stay in climate-controlled tents. Images from the city’s announcement show dozens of cots lined up in rows. The city said those would be for single individuals, and other options would be made available for families.
Murad Awawdeh, executive director of the N.Y. Immigration Coalition, called Adams’ plan “ridiculous.”
“While we recognize 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,” Awawdeh said in a statement.
“This center 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.”
New York City’s Emergency Management and Health and Hospitals departments will manage the tent facilities. The first two are slated to open in the coming weeks. One will open in Orchard Beach in the Bronx. The second location has yet to be determined.
Additional tent communities may be built if city officials believe they’re needed.
“These centers will provide services such as wellness checks and temporary shelter when individuals and families first come to the city,” Department of Emergency Management (NYCEM) Commissioner Zach Iscol said.
“This is a true interagency effort, and we look forward to continuing this work with our partner agencies to ensure asylum seekers are receiving the resources they need after a long and difficult journey.”
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