For several days, international immigrants, freshly arrived, have been waiting around the clock outside Roosevelt Hotel in New York, huddled together on the sidewalk, hoping to secure a place in the city’s overflowing shelter system.
Meanwhile, Mayor Eric Adams has repeatedly declared the city at total capacity and has made efforts to deter additional migrants from coming.
The scene outside the hotel, once known for luxury and now serving as a migrant shelter and intake center, has highlighted the severe overcrowding in a system for housing people experiencing homelessness, already filled to unprecedented levels.
However, some critics have accused New York authorities of manipulating the queues outside the Roosevelt Hotel, using them to pressure state and federal officials for additional funds to deal with the crisis and to deter illegal immigrants from entering the U.S. from Mexico.
Officials feel Mayor Adams should not be utilizing asylum seekers to gain the Biden administration’s attention or to dissuade others from coming to New York.
Awawdeh urged the city to do more to make room in shelters and keep migrants from living on the streets, asserting that it’s difficult to believe there are insufficient beds to house those left outside by the Adams administration.
During a Thursday briefing, Deputy Mayor Anne Williams-Isom defended the city’s actions.
“No one in this administration, including myself, would use people in a stunt,” she said.
Williams-Isom maintained that the city has acted ” with compassion and humanity ” but acknowledged that the shelter system was at its “breaking point.”
According to city officials, nearly 100,000 migrants have arrived in New York since spring 2022, overburdening a shelter system designed for tens of thousands less.
New York’s unique legal responsibility to offer emergency shelter to anyone requesting it has been increasingly strained by the large number of asylum-seekers.
Although border crossings have slowed recently, buses filled with migrants continue to arrive almost daily, with about 2,300 seeking shelter last week alone.
On another occasion, security guards stopped migrants from speaking to reporters, with one guard gesturing a threat to silence a migrant during an interview.
Mayor Adams, a Democrat, has emphasized the city’s efforts, including leasing hotels and opening new shelters.
City officials are considering further options, such as utilizing Central Park and Brooklyn’s Prospect Park or building a tent city on an East River island. A new shelter in Queens will add about 1,000 beds.