New York City strengthens system for requesting asylum amid uncertainty

New York, Dec 12 (EFE).- New York City has strengthened its system for attending to people requesting asylum by setting up a network of installations that will begin operating on Tuesday, given the uncertainty sparked by the imminent changes in Washington’s deportation policy on the US-Mexico border.

Manuel Castro, the city official in charge of immigration issues, said Monday that New York is focusing on developing the “infrastructure” to help the migrants in preparation for a “wave” of asylum requests.

He said there is a lot of uncertainty about what’s going to happen starting on Dec. 21 with the suspension by the US Department of Justice of Title 42, a health safety measure that, using the pretext of the Covid-19 pandemic, has been used to quickly expel from the US thousands of migrants who have crossed the border from Mexico.

The measure was implemented during the 2017-2021 Republican administration of former President Donald Trump and will be replaced by Title 8, which allows migrants to request asylum at ports of entry and gives the US government the power to deport or impose sanctions on anyone not meeting the established prerequisites for obtaining asylum.

The first “resource navigation center” for asylum petitioners arriving in the Big Apple was established at the headquarters of the American Red Cross in Manhattan and in its four months of operation so far has attended to 7,000 people, officials at City Hall said on Monday.

That center, which is on the building’s third floor and regularly receives migrants who have made an appointment, starting on Tuesday will also occupy the fourth floor and will be augmented by about 10 satellite centers in all five New York boroughs, where eight community organizations hired at a cost of $2.1 million will help migrants with their asylum requests.

New York City Hall estimates that about 30,000 migrants have arrived in the city this year, many of them sent on buses from Texas by that state’s governor, Greg Abbott, a Republican who is extremely critical of the Democratic Joe Biden administration’s open borders policy. Of those, some 20,500 are being housed in the city’s network of shelters.

Castro said that the federal government “needs a plan” to “humanely” welcome migrants who cross the southern border, in contrast to the actions undertaken by Abbott, and he said that he hopes the White House already has a plan that’s ready to be implemented since there’s less than a week before the legislative change.

He gave media representatives a tour of the center, where among the services offered are legal advice, medical care, emotional support and aid to families who have school-age children.

The requirements for being able to use the services of the navigation centers is to have arrived in the US seeking asylum during or after January 2022 and to provide documentation provided by the authorities to enter and live in New York City, he said.

Castro noted that some 400 migrants arrived in New York on eight to 10 buses during the summer, a situation that forced local authorities to establish an emergency housing system in shelters and hotels to cover their immediate needs, and that system continues to function but it’s different from the “resource navigation” system.

He said that local authorities hope that people start to leave the shelter system and find lodging on their own, for example by sharing apartments in immigrant neighborhoods, adding that officials are moving to the satellite model and expanding that system to be able to provide legal services.

Castro said that the shelters were never intended to house asylum seekers but they are being used because the migrants had no contacts or relatives in the city when they arrived, and thus lots is being done to build additional facilities so that asylum seekers can become established and work while their asylum requests are being processed.

EFE –/bp

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