Migrants from Texas arrive in New York and find themselves in a political dispute

The first 3,500 miles of Jose Rodríguez’s journey from Venezuela to New York took nearly two months.

The last 2,000 took less than two days, on a bus chartered by the State of Texas.

Mr. Rodríguez was among about 50 migrants who arrived at the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Times Square early Friday amid a raging political battle over immigration.

Since April, Governor Greg Abbott of Texas, a Republican, has been shipping newly arrived asylum seekers to immigrant-friendly Democratic towns on the East Coast in an attempt to pressure the Biden administration into cracking down on the border. . Mr Abbott’s press office said the bus that arrived in Manhattan on Friday, which left Eagle Pass on Wednesday afternoon, welcomed “the first group of migrants bused into New York from Texas”.

Mr Abbott and Mayor Eric Adams of New York have been sparring over immigrants on social media and in the press for weeks. The bus was dispatched two days after Mr. Adams announced emergency measures to allow New York City to rapidly increase shelter capacity.

New York officials said about 4,000 asylum seekers have arrived in the city in recent months. Most buses from Texas — and Arizona, whose governor followed Mr. Abbott’s lead — went to Washington.

Like Washington, New York is “the perfect destination for these migrants, who can benefit from the abundance of city services and housing that Mayor Eric Adams has boasted about in the sanctuary city,” Abbott said Friday in a communicated. “I hope he keeps his promise to welcome all migrants with open arms so that our overrun and overwhelmed border towns can find relief.”

Both Mr Adams and Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser say their cities have been overwhelmed by an influx of asylum seekers, with homeless shelter systems at capacity. They implored the federal government to help them find and create places to live for migrants.

The population of New York’s main homeless shelter system had risen to just over 50,000 on Tuesday, from 46,000 at the end of May. It was unclear to what extent the strain on the system could be attributed to asylum seekers.

The number of people in family shelters in the city, where almost all of the recent increase has occurred, tends to increase in the summer, and although there has been a recent increase at the Mexican border, Latin American refugees find their way to New York in large numbers year-round.

The city’s Department of Homeless Services declined to provide numbers on how many of those have recently arrived at shelters from outside New York or whether the proportion has changed.

Last month, after the city violated the Right to Housing Act by not providing rooms to some people who had come to the Bronx family shelter, Mr. Adams accused asylum seekers sent from Texas and arizona.

Homeless advocates say there are many reasons the city’s shelter system has become overburdened, some partially or entirely under city control. These factors include a lack of affordable housing, an increase in evictions, and longer wait times to leave shelters and move into apartments.

Although some of the migrants who arrived on the chartered bus from Texas on Friday were heading for the shelter system, Mr. Rodríguez and a friend who traveled with him, Pablo Gutiérrez, knew someone in New York who was able to help them. give a place to stay. “We have a friend who will come and meet us here,” Gutiérrez said.

Mr. Rodríguez, 38, an unemployed bricklayer from Maracaibo, on Venezuela’s northwest coast, said he left home with $100 in his pocket on June 10.

“I had no money to eat,” he said, his voice cracking, as he waited for his host in Midtown later Friday morning. “The situation is very desperate in Venezuela.”

Like other migrants, Mr. Rodríguez and Mr. Gutiérrez said they agreed to go to New York because it was free. “We heard there was a lot of work in New York,” said Mr. Gutiérrez, 30, who worked as a cook at his home.

The Adams administration denounced the bus trip as another stunt by Mr Abbott. “The Governor of Texas’ continued use of human beings as political pawns is disgusting,” said Fabien Levy, a spokesman for Mr. Adams. wrote on Twitter. The city, Mr. Levy added, would continue “to welcome asylum seekers” but needed federal support to do so.

Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, which provides aid and services to newly arrived immigrants, said Friday it has helped more than 1,000 people who appear to have come to New York in recent weeks directly from the southern border or after a brief detour. in Washington. Asylum seekers crossing the southern border travel regularly by bus from Texas to New York, although they usually stop first in San Antonio or other southern cities, rather than coming directly.

Mr. Abbott’s press office did not immediately respond to a question about whether Texas planned to send more migrant buses to New York.

Be that as it may, the wave of migrants continues to flow. On Friday afternoon, an extended family from Venezuela – six adults and four children – arrived at the family shelter in the Bronx. They said they went to a shelter in San Antonio, where a religious group bought them tickets to Newark. From there they traveled to New York because they heard they could find work in the city.

“Even though there were other places,” said Kelvin Ortega, 27, “we always knew we wanted to come here.”


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