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    Sunday, September 25, 2022

    With NYC shelters overflowing, city putting up tents for migrants

    Cleiver Rodriguez, 24, poses for a portrait, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022, in New York. Rodriguez, an immigrant from Venezuela, arrived to Manhattan in a bus sent by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and is thankful for a free ride to New York. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)
    President Joe Biden listens as Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell, second from left, speaks during a visit to the FEMA Region 2 office in New York, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022. New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, second from right, and New York City mayor Eric Adams, right, listen. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

    New York City is establishing new triage centers in tents to handle the recent influx of migrants who are adding to already crowded shelters that have been strained for months.

    Mayor Eric Adams said the city would open two new "Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Centers," to house asylum seekers who can't find other places to stay "for approximately 24 to 96 hours," according to a Thursday announcement. People might stay longer "depending on the situation," the release said.

    To deal with overcrowding in the city's shelters, New York had set up temporary shelters in hotels and other buildings to house thousands of migrants, many of whom were bused to the East Coast in recent weeks by the Republican governors of Texas and Arizona. But the mayor says he expects many more thousands of migrants to arrive each week to a city that he said last week had hit a "breaking point."

    Anticipating the surge, the city distributed photos of what some of the tents could look like - massive white tents with dozens of orange cots that represented past humanitarian aid centers. A city spokesperson confirmed single adults would be housed in the tents, while families would be placed in a different setup, though she didn't elaborate on what the structures for families would look like. Most of the recently arrived migrants are families.

    One of the centers will be in Orchard Beach in the Bronx, which will serve single adults and be operated by the city's public hospital system. The other location hasn't been determined. Buses that arrive at the Port Authority will be re-directed to the centers and "asylum-seekers who want them will be provided with settlement options, as well as immediate health, safety, and legal information," the release said. "The additional assessment time will ensure asylum seekers understand their options and can get to their desired destination quickly and smoothly."

    In a joint statement, the advocacy groups Legal Aid and Coalition for the Homeless said they were "deeply concerned with any scenario in which families with children would be relegated to congregate settings." They warned that such setups can be dangerous for families, and "is already subject to legal prohibitions."

    The groups said they are still looking to work with city officials to establish what they called "a viable solution that satisfies New York's legal and moral obligation to provide safe and adequate shelter to all who seek it, including asylum seekers."

    Both New York City and the state are subject to a Right to Shelter mandate, based on a 1979 court order by the state Supreme Court. Under it, anyone who arrives at one of the city's five shelter intake centers is guaranteed a right to shelter. Typically, people are temporarily placed in shelter for up to 10 days as workers assess whether they have somewhere else to stay, such as with a friend or family member.

    A portion of the over 11,000 migrants who have recently arrived to New York City have been moved out of the shelter system. At least 8,500 migrants, most of them families, are currently being sheltered within one of the city's five shelter systems.

    Brendan McGuire, Adams' chief counsel, said last week that the city is reassessing practices related to the right to shelter, though he declined to say which specific practices the city might change.

    Adams also said last week that the influx of migrants seeking asylum was "unprecedented" after around 60 men weren't initially admitted to a shelter early that week. The men were provided shelter early the next morning, Adams said.

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