Parents call ’emergency meeting’ over migrant housing plan as busload of migrants arrives in NYC
More than 200 parents and New York City school officials held an “emergency meeting” Tuesday night to voice their concerns and protest against the city’s migrant housing plan.
The city is now eyeing up to 20 schools with standalone gyms to house migrants, Mayor Eric Adams said in an interview on Tuesday.
The mayor did not reveal all of the locations but the first six appear to be in Brooklyn.
Dozens of parents and even students picketed outside P.S. 172 on Tuesday and returned again on Wednesday. They say they want their children to be able to use their school gym for its intended purpose, and that it’s not safe to have strangers being housed so close to their kids.
They said their conversations with school officials at the meeting did little to quell their safety concerns for students and asylum seekers.
Though Adams admitted this new housing plan is a drastic decision, he says the city is out of options.
“Each gym, the 20 gyms that we are looking at, we have not made a final determination on all the gyms, but that we are looking at are separate from the actual school buildings, they are independent from the school buildings, they are not in buildings where schools are,” the mayor said.
Officials say 65,000 asylum seekers have come through the city so far, including 4,200 last week alone. Adams said the city expects as many as 15 buses this weekend.
P.S. 172 parents were notified on Sunday by Brooklyn District 15 superintendent that the gym would be transitioned into a temporary shelter for asylum seekers. P.S. 172’s gym sits right next to the schoolyard where children as young as 4 play.
“We’re not giving up, we want to fight to the end,” parent Kerlly Farino said. “I want my kids to be safe.”
The other schools in Brooklyn that are being considered for migrant housing include P.S. 188 in Coney Island, P.S. 189 in Crown Heights, as well as P.S. 17, M.S. 577, and P.S. 18, all in Williamsburg.
In a letter sent to parents, obtained by Eyewitness News, school officials promised migrant “individuals and families” would be confined to the school’s standalone gym saying: “This should not impact school operations, nor will the families have access to any other part of the school where students and staff are.”
But, some parents are still angry and don’t see how it would be possible for school operations to be separate from migrant housing.
NYC Schools Chancellor David Banks reassured parents that the migrants won’t disrupt schools.
“This is a crisis, it’s fluid,” Banks said. “We don’t have enough time to get out to every community and do the level of engagement that we would do under most circumstances.”
Parents said while it remains a complicated issue, they think there needs to be more help from the federal government so the city doesn’t have to resort to measures like this.
Mayor Eric Adams’ office released the following statement:
“As we’ve been saying for months, we are in the midst of a humanitarian crisis, having opened approximately 150 emergency sites, including eight large-scale humanitarian relief centers, to serve more than 65,000 asylum seekers. We received more than 4,200 asylum seekers last week alone and continue to receive hundreds of asylum seekers every day. We are opening emergency shelters and respite centers daily, but we are out of space. As the mayor has said, nothing is off the table as we work to fill our moral mandate, but we should all expect this crisis to affect every city service. We will continue to communicate with local elected officials as we open more emergency sites.”