(CMC) – A coalition of immigration advocates, allies and elected officials are demanding that federal, state and city governments in the United States step up efforts to provide Caribbean and other asylum seekers being bused to New York City from Texas with the necessary services and support to ensure they are able to thrive there.
On Friday, the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), an umbrella organisation of over 200 immigration advocacy groups, spearheaded a rally on the steps of City Hall in lower Manhattan, making their demands known.
At the rally, NYIC launched the “Welcoming New York Campaign”, designed to “keep pressure on every level of government to ensure a quicker and more efficient response to the pressing needs of new arrivals.”
“It has been nearly a month since New York City called attention to the issue of Texas Governor (Greg) Abbott’s busing of asylum seekers to New York. While we have heard some righteous condemnation of Governor Abbott’s actions from our elected leaders, we have seen little in the way of a coordinated Federal, State, and City government response to meet the needs of new arrivals,” said Murad Awawdeh, NYIC’s executive director.
“Instead, the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA) coordinated volunteers, mutual aid groups and organisations like ours to spring into action to fill the gaps with few resources. Now is the time for every level of government to develop a coordinated strategy that includes support for community groups like our member organisations that have both the trust and experience to help immigrants to successfully integrate and thrive in New York,” he added.
New York City Council Member Rita Joseph, the Haitian-born representative for the 40th Council District in Brooklyn, noted that “New York City is a city built by immigrants, including asylum seekers.
“As we deal with the influx of migrants bussed in by the xenophobic Governor of Texas, let us remember the wise words on the Statue of Liberty: ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,’” she said.
“Our city will welcome asylum seekers with open arms, not just because it’s the law, but because it’s the right thing to do,” added Joseph.
On the federal level, the Welcoming New York Campaign advocates that the White House incorporate asylum seekers into the refugee support system, coordinate arrivals with local and state governments, and develop a structure with local and state governments to assess needs, abilities and opportunities.
The campaign advocates that the US Department of Homeland Security provide funding for shelter and transportation, extend parole for asylum seekers, facilitate expedited work permits, and push Texas to ensure asylum seekers give informed consent before entering a bus and are provided with adequate food and medical care.
On the state level, the Welcoming New York Campaign urges New York State Governor Hochul and the legislature to provide additional funding for emergency legal support, create welcome centres across the state, fund temporary shelters, implement emergency contract reforms, and create a state programme of direct support, including housing vouchers, permanent housing, job placement support and funding for transportation outside of New York.