Migrants set up camp on NYC sidewalk after refusing beds at Mayor Adams’ ‘inhumane’ mega shelter in Brooklyn – New York Daily News

Dozens of asylum seekers continued to camp out in front of a Hell’s Kitchen hotel Monday, saying they’d rather sleep on the street than accept beds at Mayor Adams’ new mega migrant shelter in Brooklyn, where they fear they wouldn’t be able to keep warm or access basic amenities like showers.

The scene outside the Watson Hotel on W. 57th St. near Ninth Ave. shines a stark spotlight on the crisis the city has been plunged into due to an influx of more than 42,000 mostly Latin American migrants since last spring. Hard Top Roof Top Tent

Migrants set up camp on NYC sidewalk after refusing beds at Mayor Adams’ ‘inhumane’ mega shelter in Brooklyn – New York Daily News

As hundreds more migrants continue to arrive every week, Adams’ administration opened the mega shelter inside a Brooklyn Cruise Terminal warehouse on the Red Hook waterfront over the weekend, with capacity to house 1,000 people. The administration’s plan was to move roughly 1,000 adult male migrants who’ve been living at the Watson to the Red Hook site so the hotel can instead host asylum-seeking families with children.

But many of the male migrants at the Watson refused to be transferred to Red Hook — prompting hotel staff to kick them out of their rooms, starting Saturday.

In protest, the evicted migrants pitched tents and other makeshift structures on the sidewalk in front of the Watson, and some 100 of them were still camped out there Monday afternoon.

Unidentified migrants are pictured sleeping in the sidewalk and camping tents outside the Watson Hotel on W. 57th St. and Ninth Ave on Monday. (Luiz C. Ribeiro/for New York Daily News)

Ivan Pereira, a Venezuelan migrant who slept on the sidewalk overnight Sunday, said he actually accepted a bed at the Red Hook facility, but left quickly and returned to the Watson to set up camp.

“It’s like a pen for animals in there, with a concrete floor, no heating, no nothing,” Pereira, 33, told the Daily News in Spanish of the Red Hook location. “It’s not a good place to live, it’s inhumane.”

Videos obtained by The News from inside the Red Hook facility shows hundreds of beds lined up in tight rows, without any privacy partitions. The layout of the facility appears similar to the controversial migrant tent the administration operated on Randalls Island last year before shutting it down after only a few months.

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Isaac Quintero, who also slept in the street encampment Sunday night after getting booted from the Watson, said he won’t go to the Red Hook facility because he’s concerned it’ll be similar to the Randalls tent, where he stayed for a period last year. He said he’s very angry with Adams’ administration for “lying” to him.

“They lied about everything,” said Quintero, 21 and also Venezuelan. “They told me we come to the hotel and then we’d eventually get an apartment, and they help pay for it.”

Dozens of asylum seekers continued to camp out in front of a Hell’s Kitchen hotel Monday, saying they rather sleep on the street than relocate (New York Daily News Exclusive)

Department of Sanitation workers showed up at the Watson Monday afternoon and made migrants take down some of their tent structures, though others remained. NYPD officers were also called to the location Sunday night as some “individuals who are not asylum seekers assigned to the Watson Hotel began rushing the hotel,” said an Adams administration official.

No arrests were made, according to the NYPD.

Several hundred single male migrants were believed to still be in their rooms at the Watson as of late Monday even though Adams’ administration initially planned to transfer all of them out of there by Tuesday evening. It was not immediately clear if the administration will still meet that deadline.

Ariadna Phillips, an organizer with South Bronx Mutual Aid who was among a group of advocates providing migrants with coffee, bagels, fruit and water outside the Watson on Monday morning, said she’s been told by asylum seekers at the Red Hook location that showers are located in a space far away from the housing quarters.

“So residents have to exit into the cold to shower, return wet in the cold to the facility,” she said before adding: “They described it as prison conditions, they said it was like the detention camps on the southern border, and they fled back to the hotel.”

Migrants arrive at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal in Red Hook, Brooklyn, New York City on Monday, January 30, 2023. (Gardiner Anderson/for New York Daily News)

Adams did not offer any comment Monday on the Watson dilemma, but his spokesman disputed Phillips’ account.

“I just personally visited Brooklyn Cruise Terminal to check on the rumors of cold spaces. We checked the thermostat and the facility is definitely warm (even saw a man wearing shorts inside),” the spokesman, Fabien Levy, wrote on Twitter.

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Levy also accused groups like Phillips’ of encouraging migrants to sleep on the streets.

“Instead of encouraging asylum seekers to sleep in warm, indoor, temperature-controlled quarters at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, these groups are telling migrants to sleep in tents on the streets. The lack of reasoning here is astounding,” Levy wrote in another tweet in which he linked to a post from South Bronx Mutual Aid that urged people to donate tents and blankets to migrants outside the Watson.

Camping tents are pictured outside the Watson Hotel on 57th St. and Ninth Ave. (Luiz C. Ribeiro/for New York Daily News)

Meantime, activity appeared slow Monday afternoon at the Red Hook site.

Security guards blocked reporters from getting close to the facility itself, but Alberto Rodriguez, a 23-year-old Venezuelan, told The News outside the grounds that only about 50 people were staying there.

Rodriguez, who was moved to Red Hook from the Watson on Saturday, said the facility is “fine,” but corroborated other migrants’ claims about the cold temperatures, complaining that he has been freezing at night. He also said the beds inside are just a “piece of fabric” with no mattress and very uncomfortable.

Alberto Rodriguez, Venezuelan migrant outside the new facility in Red Hook. (Chris Sommerfeldt)

Dozens of migrants who were admitted with him have left to go back to the Watson, said Rodriguez.

[  Mayor Adams claims right-to-shelter law does not apply to NYC asylum seekers; critics pounce ]

Some of the migrants who didn’t accept placement at the Red Hook site said they were kicked out of the Watson without being allowed to retrieve their belongings.

“It’s not right. It’s not right that they treated us this way,” said Kennedy Gonzalez, a 37-year-old migrant, while sitting outside the hotel Monday afternoon in hopes of getting his belongings back.

Unidentified migrants are pictured sleeping in the sidewalk and camping tents outside the Watson Hotel on Monday. (Luiz C. Ribeiro/for New York Daily News)

Joshua Goldfein, an attorney with the Legal Aid Society, said the accounts from migrants could raise legal issues under the right-to-shelter law, which requires the city to provide “decent” shelter to anyone who needs it. Goldfein also voiced concern about what the administration will do if all single male migrants haven’t left the hotel by the Tuesday deadline.

“How is the city going to deal with that?” he said.

Adams administration officials have said the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal shelter is only expected to stay open for 12 weeks.

Still, Councilwoman Alexa Avilés, Assemblywoman Marcela Mitaynes and State Sen. Andrew Gounardes, all of whom are Democrats representing Red Hook, said they were prevented from touring the site Monday.

“If the shelter was ready for people to begin arriving Saturday, it should be ready for elected officials to visit on Monday,” they said in a statement.

Mayor Eric Adams (Barry Willilams/for New York Daily News)

The Watson dilemma comes as Adams continues to plead with the federal government for more financial and logistical aid to shelter and provide services for tens of thousands of migrants who remain in the city’s care.

Most of the migrants are fleeing poverty and violence in their home countries and ended up in New York after crossing the U.S. southern border in hopes of obtaining asylum.

In a sign of the challenges facing the new arrivals, Rodriguez, the migrant who accepted placement at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, shared paperwork with The News showing that his appointment for an asylum interview isn’t scheduled until June 2029.

He said he’s been given no assurances that he’ll get work papers before then, and added that he’s been trying to pick up off-the-books construction jobs since arriving in New York in October.

Prior to the Watson commotion, Adams touted the fact that his administration has sheltered all migrants in New York despite what he views as a lack of assistance from federal and state partners.

“Keep in mind, everyone that has arrived here received the same level of fairness and treatment,” Adams said in an appearance on NY1 Friday. “We don’t have people sleeping on the streets.”

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Migrants set up camp on NYC sidewalk after refusing beds at Mayor Adams’ ‘inhumane’ mega shelter in Brooklyn – New York Daily News

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