Advocates rally for end to 60-day shelter rule for Caribbean asylum seekers

The content originally appeared on: Caribbean News Service

The New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), an umbrella policy and advocacy organisation for more than 200 groups in New York State, spearheaded a “children’s march and rally” at City Hall Park in lower Manhattan, urging New York City Mayor Eric Adams to end the 60-day rule for Caribbean and other asylum seekers to remain in city shelters.

Most asylum seekers arriving in New York from the southern border of the United States are nationals from Venezuela, Cuba, Haiti and Nicaragua.

On Friday, NYIC said the United Federation of Teachers, elected officials, education allies, asylum-seeking families and immigrant New Yorkers joined NYIC at the rally earlier this week.

Marchers called on the mayor to eliminate the shelter notices for families, and, instead, prioritise the safety and well-being of asylum-seeking children and their families living in the city’s shelter system.

Liza Schwartzwald, NYIC’s director of economic justice and family empowerment, told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) that the city is hoping to move families who received the 60-day notice in early January.

“The city’s right to shelter has provided stability and safety for vulnerable New Yorkers in their journey towards self-sufficiency,” she said. “Mayor Adams’ continuous attacks on the right to shelter will force families and children out of shelters, destabilising them, exposing them to danger, and have long-lasting effects.”

“As a result, it will disrupt children’s education as their families struggle to navigate the city’s complex system. Prioritising permanent housing will provide vulnerable families the opportunity to thrive, which is crucial for children’s mental and physical health,” Schwartzwald said.

“Instead, Adams continues to enforce his inhumane policies, going against cost-effective solutions, and leaving families and children to pick up the pieces. No child’s education should be at risk due to their living conditions. We urge the Adams administration to recognise the importance of permanent housing for vulnerable New Yorkers and eliminate all bureaucratic measures that prevent them from living with dignity.”

Council member Rita Joseph, chair of the City Council’s Committee on Education, noted that New York City is renowned as “the home of immigrants”, stating that the city “must continue to lead on that promise”.

New York City Comptroller Brad Lander said that enacting and implementing the 60-day rule is “a monumental failure by the administration to manage shelter for asylum seekers”.

Former New York City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn said that kicking families out of shelters every two months is “one of the most dangerous and damaging policies the city could ever implement to address the migrant and homelessness crises”.

And according to Ruth Messinger, global ambassador, American Jewish World Service in New York, disrupting every classroom and damaging the learning community being built with and for each immigrant student and his/her family is “incredibly self-defeating”.

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