A total of twenty public school gyms in New York City are currently under evaluation to potentially serve as shelters as the local government is scrambling to accommodate the increasing number of new immigrants arrivals.
The decision to house migrants in New York City schools has sparked a significant backlash among parents, leading to protests and concerns about the safety of their children. After Mayor Eric Adams announced the expansion of the program from six to 20 gyms, parents expressed their frustration, emphasizing that while they welcome the migrants, they strongly oppose using schools as shelters.
Parents at PS 172 in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park neighborhood raised concerns about the proximity of the gym to the schoolyard where children play, leading to a decrease in attendance as parents chose to keep their kids at home. The lack of consultation with parents and the overnight relocation of migrants further fueled their discontent.
School officials assured parents that the migrants would be confined to the standalone gym buildings and would not have access to other parts of the school. However, parents remain skeptical and have called on city officials to find alternative solutions, including placing the migrants in the neighborhoods where the decision-makers reside.
The New York School Safety Coalition joined the chorus of concerns, emphasizing the need to prioritize the safety of students at the affected schools. Parents highlighted their unease with having adult men, without criminal background checks or health screenings, residing in close proximity to their children’s learning environment.
The city has not disclosed the duration of the migrant housing plan or provided details about the screening procedures for the migrants, who are primarily adult men. As the number of arrivals continues to rise, the city is facing a shortage of space, prompting the use of schools and hotels for housing. However, this approach has faced resistance, with local governments in Orange and Rockland counties issuing orders prohibiting hotels from accommodating the migrants.
Mayor Adams’ office acknowledged the increasing influx of illegal immigrants and the strain it places on available resources. They emphasized the urgent need to address the situation and fulfill their moral obligation, warning that the crisis would impact various city services.
The ongoing controversy highlights the complex challenges faced by authorities in accommodating migrants while ensuring the well-being and concerns of local communities. Balancing the needs of migrants with the expectations of parents and addressing the capacity limitations of the city remains a significant task for New York City officials.
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