Workers at a Long Island City migrant center said they hope new curfews will help ease the chaos at the nearly 1,000-bed facility — but neighbors have their doubts.
“This will make things a lot easier,” a security guard at the Austell Place shelter told the Post on Monday, ahead of the extension of curfews that will include the shelter and 19 others in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx.
“It’s not just these guys hanging around,” he said, pointing to a group of migrants lounging in a nearby square. “At night, they start partying and, you know, they get drunk, they fight, they damage property.
“They are damaging businesses around here, we are getting complaints,” the guard added, saying many migrants were defying shelter rules and sneaking e-bike batteries, hotplates and kettles inside – banned in because of their potential to start fires.
“There are about a thousand people here and we can’t arrest them all,” he added. “The battery will catch fire at night. This has happened in three of the shelters I’ve worked at… It’s really dangerous. They’re not cool either, they’re very rebellious.
Starting Monday evening, Austell Place and 20 other shelters across the city will require migrants to check in by 11 p.m. and stay inside until 6 a.m., with exemptions allowed for night work, schooling and legal or medical appointments.
Although the warden at Austell Place thinks the curfew will keep trouble down, not everyone in the neighborhood agrees.
“It’s going to make things worse for us, I can tell you that,” said an employee at a nearby cement factory, who said the migrants had taken up residence in his factory’s storage containers and trucks until that the authorities repress against them.
“Use them as bathrooms and cook in them. I mean, go over there and look now, there are big heavy chains and padlocks on everything because we clean up human shit every morning,” he said.
Rather than calming the chaos, the worker said curfews would simply mean that troublemakers who don’t come indoors before curfew will stay out all night.
“It will only make things worse,” he said.