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10 Jan, 2024 22:20

US school boots out students to shelter migrants

Nearly 2,000 people previously housed in a Brooklyn tent city were moved into a high school gym due to an approaching storm
US school boots out students to shelter migrants

Thousands of New York City public school students were ordered to attend classes remotely on Wednesday so that migrants previously housed in a Brooklyn tent city could take shelter in their school's gymnasium during an approaching storm.  

Students and teachers were informed on Tuesday morning that James Madison High School had been “activated” as a “temporary overnight respite center” for some 1,900 migrants staying at Floyd Bennett Field, a tent city five miles away. They were given until 5pm to remove everything they might need for the coming days. 

The relocation was described by City Hall spokeswoman Kayla Mamelak as “a proactive measure being taken out of an abundance of caution to ensure the safety and well-being of individuals working and living at the center,” as the storm was predicted to bring winds of up to 70mph. However, it was not clear how long the migrants were expected to be staying at the gym. 

The relocation will continue until any weather conditions that may arise have stabilized and the facility is once again fit for living,” Mamelak said. She noted that the migrants would “continue to be provided with essential services and support” while occupying the school building.  

New York City Mayor Eric Adams attempted to convert public school gyms into migrant housing last spring as thousands of illegal immigrants descended on the city every week. The plan met with strident opposition and organized protests from parents concerned about their children sharing space with unvetted adults of unknown origin. 

The mayor ultimately backed off on plans to convert dozens of gyms into temporary migrant accommodation, though his administration denied a policy reversal had taken place and reserved the right to commandeer the buildings once more if the rate of new arrivals increased.  

Over 162,000 migrants have arrived in New York City since the spring of 2022, when governors and mayors of states along the southern US border began busing them north en masse to so-called “sanctuary cities” known for their refusal to enforce immigration law. The human tide has long since overwhelmed the shelter system, leading the city to erect three massive tent complexes across the five boroughs – though only Floyd Bennett Field, with its tents held down by “heavy stones” rather than permanent anchors, was deemed at risk enough to warrant evacuation in the face of the coming storm.  

Last month, Adams predicted the resulting humanitarian crisis would cost the city $12 billion over three years. He has declared a state of emergency and significantly cut funding for most city services, further outraging long-time residents, who are fleeing the city in droves. New York lost more residents in 2023 than any other state, many hailing from the city.

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