By Ruth E. Hernandez Beltran
New York, Sep 27 (EFE).- New York City on Tuesday began construction of the first large tents at a humanitarian center to provide lodging for the illegal immigrants who for the past several months have been sent northwards en masse from Texas and who have saturated local welcoming services.
Several dozen workers, most of the Latin Americans, on Tuesday worked on setting up the framework for the two enormous tends, using cranes, cargo vehicles and trucks transporting equipment for portable restroom facilities.
The center, located at Orchard Beach in The Bronx, will only accept recently arrived single people, at first for a maximum period of four days while they find other places to live with friends or relatives or are referred to a shelter, New York Mayor Eric Adams announced last week, also making public at that time the construction of similar facilities for families.
Those installations will be the new arrival point for the immigrants, who up to now have been taken in at the Port Authority bus station, and besides lodging the new arrivals will be provided with food, medical attention and information about the services offered to them by the city.
Coming to the site, located in Pelham Park and connected to the city by a bus route, have been a number of curious local residents and three of them, when questioned by EFE, expressed their opposition to the project, which on Tuesday will be discussed at a neighborhood meeting.
Retired Puerto Rican Mike Ruiz said that the city doesn’t have the capacity to process the migrants so quickly, adding that he felt that the sudden arrival of so many immigrants will cause the neighborhood services to collapse.
Outside The Bronx there’s enough space to house these people, Ruiz said.
Meanwhile, Rick Patterson, a retired firefighter, said that New York should not be giving shelter to undocumented migrants and accused the local authorities of people trafficking.
Civil organizations also have criticized the location of the welcoming center, but their argument is that it’s an isolated site that experienced low temperatures, especially as autumn progresses.
According to official figures, the number of migrants who have arrived in New York in recent months already exceeds 13,600 people, most of them Venezuelans, and that has created the need for additional shelters, schooling for the children, food preparation and clothing.
More than 8,500 have been housed in shelters, which now have no further space thus causing occasional tense situations, and the authorities have found themselves obligated to use several hotels at temporary intake centers.
The city also is facing the challenge of schooling 3,200 children who have arrived from South and Central America in the migrant wave over the past few months after the campaign launched by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to send busloads of migrants from the US-Mexico border zone to so-called “progressive” or “sanctuary” cities.
New York, as a sanctuary city, has taken on the obligation to take in the illegal migrants and not to turn them over to federal authorities for eventual deportation.