Hundreds of asylum seekers flock to a federal building in Lower Manhattan every day before dawn in a desperate attempt to obtain benefits, services and keep their court dates – as confusion continues to reign during the Big Apple migrant crisis.
The massive queue, almost entirely made up of migrants bused to the five boroughs from the U.S. border, forms each morning in front of the Jacob K. Javits Federal Building.
Those who join the group seek everything from asylum to work permits — and dozens of them settle in and spend the night on the sidewalk and use nearby bushes as toilets.
Many told The Post on Thursday that they were told to come back another day — while others were simply turned away.
“I have a court date,” said an Ecuadorian migrant who was waiting in line with her two children. “They turned me away because my husband is not there. They say he must be with us. For now, the man said he couldn’t get all three of us through. We must be complete.
Ousmane Coulibaly, a 34-year-old Senegalese migrant, was waiting at 10 p.m. Wednesday in front of the courthouse to apply for a work permit – which is not yet available to him.
“I sleep on the floor,” he said Thursday morning. “I see two people and we go get boxes and we sleep here. I said, “Let me come see if they can help me get a work permit.” I want to work and take care of myself.
Coulibaly is due to appear in court next February, but he needed help so badly that he showed up on Thursday.
Around 7 a.m., at least 300 people were in front of the federal building, most of them migrants whose journey began in Ecuador, Nicaragua, Honduras or Venezuela, or as far as Russia, Nepal, Pakistan and in India.
Everyone queues, but once they arrive at the front, people are filtered in different directions by staff depending on where they need to go – or turned away completely if their papers aren’t in order or get messed up. they arrived on the wrong date.
Among the crowd were migrants who arrived from the border to the Big Apple and must register with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) within 60 days.
Others were showing up for registration dates as part of their asylum application or seeking to apply for a work permit.
The government building houses several federal agencies, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Department of Homeland Security, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, as well as immigration courts.
Besides migrants, anyone interested in immigration-related issues, such as U.S. citizenship, must also make an appointment in the same building.
“I’m here because I have an asylum appointment,” said Mann Singh, a 37-year-old Indian migrant who had been waiting in line since 2 a.m. Thursday with his daughter, 11-year-old Jasmeen Kaur.
“We reached the fifth floor and gave them the papers,” Singh said. “They took our papers, checked them and returned them. They said they would call us. They didn’t give us an appointment.
Rufat, 46, a Russian migrant who fled the war with Ukraine last year, said he has been staying in a Brooklyn facility ever since and continues to hope for both a work permit and asylum.
“I’m here for the work permit,” he said Thursday. “I haven’t worked and I want to work. After the work permit, I hope to obtain asylum. Last year, I crossed the border. I stayed there for a month in detention.
The queue of hundreds of people is longer than can be served in a day and although there are a small number of places for those who do not have an appointment scheduled, these are quickly get busy, meaning many disappointed people are turned away and have to move on to the next one. day.
More than 113,000 migrants from the U.S.-Mexico border have flocked to New York since the spring of last year, including nearly 60,000 now in municipal or state-funded shelters in the five districts.
Gov. Kathy Hochul criticized the White House on Wednesday for failing to expedite work permits for migrants, with Mayor Eric Adams also pleading for help from President Joe Biden and warning of what would arise in its place.
“We created a black labor market, low wages, women were sexually exploited. The workers were treated unfairly,” Adams told CBS News this week.
“So we’re seeing an increase in prostitution in the city because people have to provide for their families, and that’s really going to have an impact on the quality of life in our city. »
New York Post