NYC Mayor announces relief centres to support Caribbean asylum seekers
New York City Mayor Eric Adams (Photo: Lauren Justice/Bloomberg)

NEW YORK, (CMC)– New York City Mayor Eric Adams says the city will open its Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Centres to support the hundreds of asylum seekers, including Caribbean nationals, arriving in New York City each day from Texas and other border states.

Adams said the humanitarian relief centres will provide assistance to newly arriving individuals and families, and ensure they continue to be connected to the full range of services and support they need. The asylum seekers are primarily Haitians.

In addition, he indicated that while other state leaders have not supported asylum seekers, NYC will take a different approach to the humanitarian crisis, while noting that the centres will provide direct referrals to alternative emergency supports or city shelter.

“More than 100 years ago, Ellis Island opened its doors to welcome 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,” he said.

“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 is why the Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Centres 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,” he added.

Deputy mayor for Health and Human Services, Anne Williams-Isom, concurred and 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 support,” she said.

However, 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 the state, urged Adams to reconsider establishing the relief centres.

“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,” he said.

“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,” he added.

He added that until the Adams-led administration provides an updated and concrete written plan that allows for input from humanitarian organisations, public health, and housing experts to ensure the health and safety of all residents, the NYIC cannot endorse this effort.

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