US finalises contract to utilise airfield in NY as shelter for Caribbean asylum seekers

The Mayor of New York City Eric Adams says the city and the US federal government have finalised an agreement on the use of the Floyd Bennett Airfield in Brooklyn to shelter Caribbean and other asylum seekers.

After months of negotiations, New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced last month that the Joe Biden administration had given the go-ahead.

Many of the asylum seekers coming to New York from the southern borders of the United States are nationals of Cuba, Haiti, Venezuela and Nicaragua.

“New York City has entered into a lease agreement with the federal government that allows us to use Floyd Bennett field as an emergency site to shelter some of the more than 113,300 asylum seekers who have sought our care since the spring of 2022,” said Adams on Friday. “I want to thank Governor Hochul for her commitment to reimbursing New York City fully for the use of this site, and I’m looking forward to further partnerships with our friends in Albany [New York’s capital] as we manage this ongoing crisis.”

“But let’s be clear: If the federal government were to issue an emergency declaration, additional federal space and funding would become available to better manage this crisis,” he added. “Further, as I have said before, because we haven’t seen meaningful policy changes that would alter the course of this crisis, we’ve been forced to unsustainably open new site after new site as asylum seekers continue to arrive by the thousands.

“This is not an adequate solution or any sort of long-term plan by the federal government to this national problem,” the mayor continued. “We will continue to advocate for expedited work authorisations for asylum seekers, a federal declaration of emergency, more federal funds, and a national and state decompression strategy.

“We are hopeful that today’s announcement is an example of the state and federal governments’ commitment to leading on this national humanitarian crisis,” he said.

Adams said that, for months, he and Hochul have been urging the federal government to allow New York to use Floyd Bennett Field to help house some of the more than 100,000 asylum seekers who have sought care in New York City.

New City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, the son of Grenadian immigrants, said he was “glad to see the governor commit this location and funding to provide shelter for the ever-increasing number of new and aspiring New Yorkers arriving in our city.

Williams said he will “work to ensure that shelters meet the necessary standards, including security precautions, resource availability, and transportation access to and from the site for migrants and community organizations alike.

“I hope that this and other actions signal a sustained and increased effort by the state to step up with financial and infrastructural support to meet this humanitarian crisis,” he said.

“I appreciate the federal government approving this site location – their support cannot end with approval, as there is a much greater responsibility,” Williams added. “We urgently need more federal funding, resources, and infrastructure to help ensure that people fleeing danger and seeking asylum and support in our country are met by the federal government with aid, not apathy.” Williams added.

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