Migrant Crisis in US. Humanitarian Organizations Fall Behind with Aid

Tens of thousands of immigrants from South America have flocked to the U.S. in the past year.

Unlike previous waves of Latin American migrants who headed to places in the U.S. where they had family or friends to help them, these new arrivals mostly have no foothold in the U.S. In their quest for a better life, they are counting on social assistance.

They are drawn to migrant-friendly cities, but these places are not prepared for such huge numbers.

Crowds of Migrants Go to the US

Many of them end up in New York because they are transported there on the orders of the Texas governor. Others choose to head there on their own because local law guarantees a bed in the shelter system — to anyone, without asking about immigration status. It is also one of the Democratic American cities famous for its pro-immigrant stance. In addition, it is relatively easy to find a job in New York City in construction or the service industry, for example The public transportation system is extensive, so there’s no need to have a driver’s license or a car to move around freely.

Since the spring of 2022, the city has drawn almost 80,000 migrants. Currently, New York City pays to shelter about 48,000 foreigners. Married couples and families are housed in hotel rooms as a priority, single people are guaranteed a bed in hostels. They can stay there indefinitely.

The legendary Roosevelt Hotel , which was closed during the pandemic, is one of the places that has been adapted for visitors and serves as a shelter and point of first contact. Buses with migrants in need of food, health care, identification documents and help with enrolling children in schools head for the hotel, which opened in 1924 and was named after the 26th president of the United States.

Migrants in the US. What Are the Costs?

The migration crisis is expensive. A city spends $380 per person daily, which amounts to $1.2 billion within the last 12 months. The influx of migrants to New York City has caused the number of people in shelters under the city’s care to double since the beginning of 2022. “We’ve gotten to the point where our system is buckling, and it’s about to break,” Anne Williams-Isom, the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services, told The New York Times.*

Recently, thanks to Rep. Hakeem Jeffries and Sen. Charles Schumer, the city received an additional $104 million in federal funds, but this is only a drop in the ocean of need.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams has criticized President Joe Biden for months for failing to respond with the federal financial and logistical assistance that New York City requires as it is overwhelmed by the influx of migrants. While other mayors are happy for Adams to speak out about the issues they face too, the New York City mayor has fallen out of favor with the president and has been removed from his campaign’s board of national advisers.

Revenge of the Republicans

Other major cities in the U.S. are also facing the migrant crisis including Denver, Philadelphia and Washington. Just like New York, these cities are far from the border and unprepared for the influx of migrants. In each of these cities, the authorities and humanitarian organizations are not keeping up with providing aid and accommodation.

These cities are also governed by Democratic mayors. More than a year ago, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis began sending north buses of migrants who had just crossed the border and were awaiting a decision on whether to apply for asylum or another visa program.

New York City Mayor Adams himself sent more than 100 migrant families to other places. “Unlike the authorities in Texas or Florida, who force migrants to travel to certain places in the north, we work with them and allow them to travel to places where they want to go, where they have family or friends,” a spokesman for the City Council has said.*

Antipathy of Rural America toward Migrants

Adams is also trying to shift the burden of caring for migrants to other parts of New York State where the cost of living is lower. He offers bus transportation and payment for their accommodation and food for four months. This plan of action, however, outrages Republicans, who blame the influx of migrants to the U.S. on Democrats who defend the idea of sanctuary cities, i.e., cities where migrants can stay without fear of being stopped in the street by immigration authorities.

Now more than 20 New York counties have declared a state of emergency under which hotels can refuse to accept migrants. Several jurisdictions managed to get a judicial blockade protecting against the influx of migrants.

Awaiting Approval

Local nonprofit organizations collect aid for migrants who often feel that they are not welcome. “They say that we should not be going outside the hotel very often because people don’t like us being here,” one of the migrants who landed in Newburgh, a town of 30,000 people north of New York City, told The New York Times.*

Under the law, migrants crossing the U.S. border can apply for asylum. They undergo verification at the border, and then for months or more, while already in the U.S., they await the decision of the immigration court. Years later, the lucky ones manage to obtain citizenship.

Until May, since the beginning of the pandemic, Title 42 had allowed most migrants to be sent back from the border and denied asylum. However, during that time, some migrants availed themselves of various exceptions or crossed the border illegally. Overwhelmed by the migrant crisis at the border, the Biden administration is now tightening controls, urging migrants to apply for legal entry through a mobile app while waiting for a decision.

At the same time, the administration is increasing the number of asylum seekers it can accept at border crossings. But the number of people requesting asylum and entry to the U.S. far exceeds the available places for them.

*Editor’s Note: These quotes, while accurately translated, could not be independently verified.

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