Long lines of confused male migrants were left to slump on walls and benches outside the Men’s Intake Shelter located on 400 East 30th St. on Tuesday after they were denied a place to stay due to the facility reportedly running out of room.
The immigrants, who were bussed into New York from the Texas border at the order of Texas Governor Greg Abbott, now find themselves homeless and stuck in another struggle between volunteers and city officials, several sources told amNewYork Metro.
The city and volunteers—who donate their time greeting and caring for the new arrivals — have both been at each other’s throats since the flood of humanity began landing at Port Authority Bus Terminal last month, compounding the ongoing homelessness crisis in New York.
A source close to the situation told amNewYork Metro that the city’s Department of Social Services (DSS) has been refusing to allow volunteers into shelters with the migrants. Volunteers also learned that some refugees had been tossed back onto the street.
That left the homeless men no other choice but to sleep outside the shelter, in parks and in subways, the source told amNY. Some of the non-English speaking men returned to the Port Authority Bus Terminal to seek help from the volunteers who showed them kindness.
“They come back to Port Authority because that’s where we welcomed them. They tell us that we gave them such an amazing welcome. The families are getting separated at shelters. Children, brothers, sisters, cousins–everyone is getting separated,” one volunteer said stating that this is due to the city being unable to prove they are related.
Perplexed and angry, several migrants showed deep fear of having their photographs taken, even becoming hostile. According to volunteers, this is due to the concern that ICE may retaliate against them for speaking out.
Additionally, the city shelters also sent security out on the public street in a vain attempt to prevent amNewYork Metro from covering the crisis.
“ICE searches their social media, they search all the interviews you have done in the past. If they find that you’ve done an interview or they see your face in the newspaper, they will then use that to say: hey, this is what you said. I know because it happened to me,” a longtime immigrant told amNewYork Metro.
One volunteer, Adama Bah, remained outside the Men’s Intake Shelter desperately attempting to aid those who pleaded that they had been waiting hours for a bed, an issue volunteers say has now become a daily concern — and something which the Legal Aid Society says breaches both the law and a court order.
“It is now clear that this Administration simply does not have a handle on the city’s sprawling homelessness crisis and the serious capacity issues in the Department of Homeless Services’ (DHS) shelters,” the Legal Aid Society said in a statement. “Any New Yorker, including an individual seeking asylum, is legally entitled to placement in a safe and decent shelter. Should the City continue to deprive our clients of this codified right, we’ll seek action from the court.”
DSS responded by declaring that the agency has already provided thousands with a roof over their head during a time which seeing an unparalleled need for shelter.
“As part of our efforts to address the unprecedented need for shelter services, we have already provided shelter to thousands of recently arrived-asylum seekers, including hundreds yesterday alone, and we continue to open emergency sites citywide,” a DSS spokesperson told amNY. “We also continue to maintain open lines of communication and work in good faith with our stakeholders, including advocates, and welcome their input to find ways to support the vital work we are doing despite unprecedented challenges. Our teams remain committed to working around the clock while quickly adapting to the reality on the ground and identifying additional capacity to make sure that we are providing supports to anyone in need of shelter services regardless of background and immigration status.”
In response to the controversy, Mayor Eric Adams released a statement Wednesday afternoon in which he admitted that the city is reaching a breaking point due to what he called “new and unforeseen reality, where we expect thousands more to arrive every week.” Yet he pushed back against criticism and instead championed work he says the city has performed offering shelter, health care, education, and a host of other services to more than 11,000 people.
“The approximately 60 men reported on from Monday night arrived with a group of several hundred others and were provided shelter early the next day as we immediately informed relevant stakeholders. We will continue to work every day with those who want to partner on this vital work to provide these individuals with the shelter and services they so desperately need,” Adams said.
While the mayor said that those 60 people did receive shelter, amNewYork Metro was at the 30th Men’s Intake Shelter at 1am where individuals were still seeking shelter. However, the next day many of the individuals had disappeared. According to a source who wished to remain unnamed, the city transported them to hotels across the city due to the negative press.