The first group of migrants to arrive at a newly opened New York City shelter this weekend reportedly refused to stay, demanding better accommodations from the city, according to the New York Post.
City Buses Migrants to Floyd Bennett Field
On Sunday, the city transported 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 address the housing needs of over 65,000 migrants overwhelming the city’s shelter system.
Tent City Faces Initial Opposition
The Post reported that the initial busload of migrants arriving at the airfield on Sunday afternoon rejected the shelter.
Lack of Information
One individual from the group stated, “We weren’t told where we were going.”
Personal Impact on Migrant
The individual, who works in the Bronx, emphasized the impracticality of living far from work and schools. He declared, “For us to live out here is ridiculous. We’re going back.”
‘We Didn’t Know We Were Coming Here’
Another migrant shared that his family had been staying at the Roosevelt Hotel in Manhattan before being bused to Floyd Bennett Field.
He remarked, “They are going to take us back to the train so we can go back to 45th Street. We didn’t know we were coming here. They just said they were taking us to a shelter.”
‘I Cannot Stay Here’
Expressing dissatisfaction, he added, “I cannot stay here.” He labeled the city’s makeshift accommodations as “crazy.”
Concerns Raised by Local Politicians
Many local politicians, including Brooklyn Democratic State Assemblywoman Jaime Williams, questioned the mayor’s decision to convert the remote airfield into a shelter. Williams revealed concerns about the location and fire safety issues.
‘Disaster Waiting to Happen’
Williams conveyed the migrants’ complaints about the isolated location, making transportation to work and school challenging.
She described it as “a disaster waiting to happen” due to the absence of essential infrastructure like supermarkets.
Fire Safety Concerns
City officials highlighted fire safety concerns at the makeshift shelter, pointing out that the closest fire hydrants are a half-mile away and “not reliable,” according to NYC fire officials.
E-Bikes and Potential Fire Risks
Adding to the concerns, the city plans to provide migrants with e-bikes, which use lithium-ion batteries known to spark fires.
Shelter Capacity and Location
The shelter is intended to accommodate approximately 2,000 migrants, but questions linger about its suitability given its remote location and associated challenges.
Migrants Are Leaving Out of Fear
Assemblywoman Williams shared insights from an NYC Health & Hospitals representative, stating that the migrants left because “they were scared” and expressed uncertainty about their purpose at the shelter.
Location Not Suitable for Housing
Republican Representative Bruce Westerman expressed reservations about using the airfield as a tent city, stating that the location is not suitable for temporary or permanent housing.
‘Defies Common Sense’
Former Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo criticized the Adams administration’s decision, stating that using the airfield as a shelter “defies common sense.”
Bus Driver’s Surprise
One of the bus drivers transporting migrants to the new shelter expressed surprise at the migrants’ departure, noting, “Only a few people stayed. We didn’t see that coming.”
Administration Stands by Their Decision
The Adams administration responded to the incident, asserting that migrants arriving on subsequent buses agreed to stay.
A spokesperson defended the decision, citing the overwhelming number of migrants in their care and the exhaustion of available options for shelter.
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Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Arnett Murry