Asylum seekers hold sleep-in outside Gracie Mansion to protest shelter policies
In a dramatic display, dozens of asylum seekers “slept in” in front of Gracie Mansion to tell Mayor Eric Adams they are fed up. The city recently announced shelter stays for immigrant families with children would be limited to 60 days. For single adult men, the stays would be limited to 30 days.
Battouly Diallo arrived in New York City from Guinea two weeks ago. She says her time here so far has been difficult.
“We are here today asking for the right to shelter, because before I left Africa to come to the U.S. I heard that New York was a welcoming city. But when we came here, the reality was totally different and I am disappointed about it,” Diallo told News 12 New York via a translator.
The mayor also recently said he would start giving out tents to asylum seekers, instead of shelter placements. Officials say this violates New York City’s right to shelter policy, which was adopted in 1981. It says that the city and state should provide shelter to all homeless men in New York City who meet the “need” standard for welfare or who are homeless because of physical, mental or social dysfunction. This policy has since been expanded to include women, children and families.
The mayor’s office told News 12 that 140,000 migrants have already come into New York City and that the city has spent almost $3 billion on the new arrivals. They went onto say in a statement: “...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...Unless those now criticizing New York City’s response have realistic alternatives to suggest, we ask that they instead join us in calling for meaningful help and a decompression strategy from our state and federal partners.”
Amaha Kassa has a few ideas. He’s the executive director of African Communities Together – an organization dedicated to helping African asylum seekers.
“If there’s not enough space in the shelters, then we need to provide vouchers so people can find housing in the private housing market, we need to take our empty office buildings and our empty condos and hotels after COVID and turn those into stable affordable housing for all New Yorkers,” Kassa told News 12.
The mayor also recently announced budget cuts, which he attributed to the migrant crisis. The New York Immigration Coalition – who helped organize this rally - says this is a further attempt by him to scapegoat asylum seekers.