New York City’s migrant situation entered a contentious phase with Mayor Eric Adams introducing a significant policy to tackle rising apprehensions about panhandling. Nightly curfews will now be imposed on four migrant respite centers citywide, mandating that asylum seekers remain indoors from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.
This action is a reaction to increasing grievances from residents who report being overwhelmed by destitute migrants soliciting food and money near their residences. Councilwoman Joann Ariola, representing one of the impacted neighborhoods, characterized the situation as alarming and deemed the curfews as just the initial measure.
The curfews, modeled after those in place at current homeless shelters, will initially be enforced at four designated centers: the Judo and JFK centers in Queens, the Stockton Center in Brooklyn, and the Lincoln Manhattan Center in Manhattan. Exceptions for employment, education, and medical commitments will be accommodated, necessitating permits for authorized departures.
Under mounting pressure to address the surge of migrants, Mayor Adams positioned the curfews as a step to prioritize the well-being and safety of both migrants under our care and longstanding New York residents. Officials from City Hall underscored that this policy is a continual effort, suggesting the potential extension of curfews to additional shelters and tent cities, commonly referred to as HERRCs.
Residents’ concerns have centered around the HERRC situated at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn. The isolated setting has led numerous migrants to engage in local panhandling, intensifying worries about public safety. Just this month, a lethal stabbing incident at the tent city on Randall’s Island highlighted the potential drawbacks of these provisional housing arrangements.
Although the curfews represent a tangible measure to tackle pressing issues, the ongoing debate over New York City’s right-to-shelter policy persists. Councilwoman Ariola, joined by other dissenting voices, contends that the city should relinquish its legal mandate to offer shelter to all asylum seekers and redirect efforts towards preventing the influx of migrants into the city.
Advocacy groups, on the other hand, criticize the curfews as cruel and inefficacious. They contend that constraining individuals’ movements will heighten distress and, in the long run, contribute minimally to addressing the systemic issues fueling the crisis.