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NYC has seen an influx of 90,000 migrants and asylum-seekers since last spring

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Since last spring, New York has received more than 90,000 migrants and asylum-seekers, and it's now at capacity, city officials say. Meanwhile, dozens of new arrivals are camping out on the streets of Manhattan. NPR's Jasmine Garsd reports.

JASMINE GARSD, BYLINE: It's another scorching afternoon in New York City. Jose Luis has been sitting on the sidewalk for four days now, stuck in a line that wraps around the block.

JOSE LUIS: (Speaking Spanish).

GARSD: "The line isn't moving," he says. "The staff comes out and is very rude. They tell us, wait. Wait. But no solutions are offered."

LUIS: (Speaking Spanish).

GARSD: Jose Luis asked that his last name be withheld. His family is still in Ecuador. He says he fled drug cartel violence. It took him months to get here. Now he's just sitting outside the Roosevelt Hotel indefinitely. This is where people are processed before they're sent to other shelters throughout the city. But those shelters say they're now at capacity.

ROBERT ROBISON: We've always been a - I mean, a state that politically have always aligned ourselves with a welcoming attitude.

GARSD: Robert Robison was out on his lunch break when he stumbled upon the scene. He says he's worked in Manhattan for years and never seen anything like this.

ROBISON: To see this here just makes, like, not a lot of sense to me.

GARSD: New York Mayor Eric Adams says no one should be surprised. He's been warning of this for months.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ERIC ADAMS: Our cup has basically runneth over. We have no more room in the city.

GARSD: The Biden administration has offered to send a liaison to New York. Adams says that's not enough. He and Governor Kathy Hochul are urging the government to expedite work permits. That would allow asylum-seekers to get out of the shelter system quicker.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ADAMS: We've been very clear that we need to allow asylum-seekers to work. We need the economic support on the federal government, and we need to ensure that there's a real decompression strategy throughout the entire country.

GARSD: In the meantime, City Hall says single people can now only spend two months in a shelter. And in an unusual move, the city will be handing out fliers at the border urging people not to come to New York. When Yan Franco, a Venezuelan migrant, got to the border around two weeks ago, he wasn't told any of this.

YAN FRANCO: (Speaking Spanish).

GARSD: He turned himself over at the Arizona border a few weeks ago. He was bussed to Colorado, then Manhattan. He arrived on this morning. He says he was surprised to see all the people sleeping on the streets.

FRANCO: (Speaking Spanish).

GARSD: The city has said it's prioritizing children and families, and it has announced it will soon open two new shelters in Queens. In the long line outside the Roosevelt Hotel in Manhattan, people try to sleep. One man prays. Others stare listlessly into space. A Venezuelan migrant named Jose Gregorio shrugs his shoulders, resigned.

JOSE GREGORIO: (Speaking Spanish).

GARSD: "We came from so far. It took us so long. We can wait out here for a bit longer." Just how long is anyone's guess. Jasmine Garsd, NPR News, New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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Jasmine Garsd
Jasmine Garsd is an Argentine-American journalist living in New York. She is currently NPR's Criminal Justice correspondent and the host of The Last Cup. She started her career as the co-host of Alt.Latino, an NPR show about Latin music. Throughout her reporting career she's focused extensively on women's issues and immigrant communities in America. She's currently writing a book of stories about women she's met throughout her travels.
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