New York

Recent Wave of Asylum Seekers NYC Residential Job Shortage Legal Assistance Due to Immigration Status

Olga Rodriguez and her two boys went to West Harlem’s Riverbank Park on Monday for free meals, health insurance, and other types of assistance, I heard from her pastor about an event sponsored by the MetroPlus insurance company. She and many other immigrants arrived in New York City a few months ago and are now trying to find a foothold for themselves.

The Colombian has been in the city since July and arrived around the time of Mayor Eric Adams first admitted Increase in asylum seekers coming to New York. Since then, she said she feels “atada.”

Rodriguez lives with his children in an emergency shelter in the Bronx, but has no stable housing. She could not find her job because she could not leave her children alone in the shelter. And she needs money for her lawyer to help her asylum case, but she has no income because she has no job.

New York continues to experience waves of asylum seekers, many of whom arrive in the city without a place to stay. However, immigrants struggle to leave shelters and are denied access to several major housing programs because of their immigration status. Many also apply for permanent residency in the United States without access to free legal services for administering asylum applications in federal immigration courts.

Expats often say the long trip to the United States was worth it, but many say adjusting to the city was an uphill battle.

“Ask yourself, did I do the right thing by coming here? Rodriguez, who worked as a nurse in Colombia, left the country because of domestic violence.” People are suffering, we are all suffering, and it has to take a year, six months, time to see results. It breathes life back into it, but sometimes it gets me down.”

Need Albany action?

Of the more than 15,500 asylum seekers who entered the city’s shelters, more than 11,800 remained there as of September 28, according to figures provided by the mayor’s office. The city has responded by activating 39 emergency shelters and is proceeding with the construction of emergency shelters. emergency temporary tent shelter For asylum seekers in the parking lot of Orchard Beach, Bronx.

On September 18, a Colombian mother of two children who had been living in an urban shelter in Hollis, Queens since the spring committed suicide. This brought attention to the plight of migrants stuck in urban shelters with no way out. She was separated from her husband at her border, who tried to cross her border and she failed three times. She had trouble finding her job and she and her sons had to distribute food. documented report.

“The tragic suicide of an asylum seeker at a city shelter earlier this month was a result of a lack of resources,” city councilor Shahana Hanif, who chairs the immigration commission, said at a hearing on asylum seekers on Friday. It shows the results of

Hanif and Chairman Adrian Adams led the hearing.

Hiram Alejandro Duran/THE CITY

At the hearing, Molly Park said, The First Deputy Commissioner of Homeless Services highlighted one major obstacle to securing housing. City vouchers are not available for new immigrants. Park said the issue was out of the city’s control and that Albany’s action would be required to expand the program to asylum seekers.

Venezuelan asylum seeker Argelia Gimemez is staying in a shelter in Central Par West.

“We are not legally allowed to give CityFHEPS to undocumented people,” Park said of one city. rental assistance supplement. “In most cases, state law is required to be able to pay ongoing rent subsidies, even with taxable dollars from city taxes.”

Park also said the government is considering changing its policy to require families to live in city shelters for 90 days before being eligible for the vouchers, which are now available to new immigrants. case.

The mayor reported that 5,235 subsidized single adults and 4,118 families exited the shelter system for permanent housing during the fiscal year through the end of June. Latest management report. Of the general shelter population, only 1,800 single adults and 1,089 families were able to leave without subsidies.

Legal Aid Society staff attorney Joshua Goldfein told THE CITY that he disagreed with Park’s argument that the state must approve the law to allow CityFHEPS to be passed on to immigrants. . He said the city council could pass legislation requiring the Adams administration to extend his CityFHEP to immigrants, or the administration could do it on its own.

“If they expand the eligibility for these programs and go beyond the very narrow limits of who is currently eligible, more people will be able to move out of the shelters.” will release more shelter units that can be used to house immigrants, so they won’t have to open so many new shelters.”

Asked about Park’s claim that state approval is required, Goldfein told THE CITY:

A family who stayed at the Park West Hotel for three weeks said they were not getting help from social workers to move to more stable housing. The mother and father, who live with a 10-year-old child who was asked not to be named for fear of reprisal from hoteliers, share a bed with the three of them and eat little except cold food. Said it wasn’t given…to the microwave.

In addition, families cannot leave their children unsupervised at hotels when they are not at school. Her father had gone to work at a hotel in Queens when she was interviewed, and her mother had not yet left for work at a fast food restaurant. Instead, she waited to see if another resident at the hotel would take care of her son.

“If they take me out of this hotel and into another place with a kitchen, and I can feed my son enough, I will be happy,” said the mother. It didn’t matter if I was sleeping on the floor, but at least I was able to feed my son a hot meal.”

Lawyer Wanted

Venezuelan Reibeth Sanchez, who arrived in Venezuela two months ago, volunteered at Monday’s event. Sanchez got city identification, IDNYC, and health insurance while she was here, and she’s currently waiting for her Social Security card.

His advice to those who want to make it in New York: “It’s not easy, but it’s not impossible. But if they have the desire to come, they should come,” Sanchez said in Spanish. .

Dozens of asylum seekers line up for donations at Riverbank State Park in Harlem on Sept. 28, 2022.

He found a construction job a month after moving to the city after obtaining the necessary Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) certification to work in construction in the city. He lives in a men’s shelter in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, where he shares a room with four others. I am afraid of losing my bed at the shelter.

But the person Sanchez said he needs the most help from is a lawyer who helps him manage his asylum application.

Camille Mackler, executive director of the Immigrant Advocates Response Collaborative (ARC), said nonprofits that often help asylum seekers file lawsuits are now overwhelmed with postponed cases during the pandemic. I was.

“They don’t have the ability to hire private lawyers. They literally arrive here with nothing but their clothes on their backs,” she said. “So they have to rely on nonprofits, and nonprofits are completely maxed out at this point.”

Immigration ARC is a member of the New York Immigration Coalition. welcome to new york The campaign calls on the city and state to provide $10 million each to support legal services for asylum seekers, among other things.

work legally

For immigrants, applying for asylum not only allows them to stay legally in the United States, but it also provides a pathway to legally work in the United States.

Mackler said courts can take three to four months to file each immigration case. After 180 days from application, immigrants can apply for a work permit.

And given the current backlog of asylum claims, it could take another year or so before a decision is handed down.

The need to obtain work permits for asylum seekers is so pressing that Mayor Adams and other elected officials appeal to the federal government pass emergency measures to expedite work permits; The city also issued her $5 million request to legal providers to help with the asylum seeker’s case. The mayor’s immigration commissioner, Manuel Castro, said at a council hearing on Friday that the arduous asylum process could take years, but the goal is to at least get applicants to obtain work permits. He said it was to make it possible.

“The reality is that it will probably cost hundreds of millions of dollars to be able to provide full legal representation to all asylum seekers who have arrived and will continue to arrive, and to the immigrant community already in New York,” Castro said. said. He said. “The problem is that the federal government does not provide legal representation to immigrants entering the country and leaves it up to individuals to find legal representation.”

Ericsson Guedes of Venezuela and Jimenez of Algeria, who are also staying at the Park West Hotel with their daughters, ages 15 and 8, have been here for the past month. Geddes said he was grateful for the support he and his family received from the city and other groups, and said his daughters were happy with the school.

Geddes, who arrived in New York before his family a month and a half ago, said he hadn’t found a stable job other than a few painting jobs. He hopes to be able to work legally in the country soon and has an appointment with a non-profit organization for legal assistance scheduled for Monday.

“What we need most is work and permission to work peacefully,” Geddes said in Spanish. “We know that if we do everything towards legalization, everything will be fine.” Recent Wave of Asylum Seekers NYC Residential Job Shortage Legal Assistance Due to Immigration Status

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