Migrants Attack Bystanders in NYC as Protest Devolves into Chaos
A three-day-long migrant standoff outside a Manhattan hotel came to a close Wednesday evening after the NYPD deployed a special operations unit to clear the encampment. Several dozen migrants had been camped, protesting the city’s effort to relocate them to a Brooklyn Cruise Terminal shelter. They had previously been staying inside the hotel after arriving in the city. NYPD made no arrests.
Twelve more #AsylumSeekers, including several who joined Commissioner @MCastroMOIA on the tour yesterday, have agreed to leave the encampment outside the #WatsonHotel and move to the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal HERRC.
Thanks to all helping to dispel misinformation. pic.twitter.com/eAdzaIyqfp
— NYC Immigrant Affairs (@NYCImmigrants) February 1, 2023
— Harish Deshmukh (@DeshmukhHarish9) February 2, 2023
The city had planned to move the group of single men to a 1,000-bed shelter to free up hotel space for incoming migrant families and mothers with children. Most of the men agreed to the relocation, but others were unwilling to give up their spots.
The city had promised to convert the terminal into a shelter earlier this month, but protesters raised concerns about poor living conditions. Photographs of the shelter showed hundreds of cots cramped together, laid end-to-end. Outside temperatures had fallen below freezing.
One passerby, a legal immigrant from Mexico, was less sympathetic to the migrants. “It’s bulls**t,” Bonfilio Solis said in a New York Post report. “These migrants expect benefits from the government and aren’t appreciating what they’re being given. They’re being very disrespectful.”
Solis said he wanted to see the protests for himself and took out his phone to film.
I don’t even understand the logic here. 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. pic.twitter.com/XoT7LmAaAY
— Fabien Levy (@Fabien_Levy) January 30, 2023
Outside protesters then sprang into action, deploying umbrellas to try and block Solis and a nearby reporter from filming. The protest quickly devolved into a frenzy, prompting several migrants to join in the confrontation. The migrants harassed Solis, shouting and trying to scare him off.
The nearby reporter, Ghassan Masoud, told The New York Post that the situation was more aggressive than anything he had encountered while covering the Iraq War. “In 30 years, even in war zones, I’ve never experienced aggression like that… I know their situation is bad. I just want to tell their story, and they attacked me.”
One migrant struck Masoud with a broom. That’s when officers stepped in.
— Geneve Lau (@genevelau) February 2, 2023
“They kicked us out of there like dogs,” said Ivan Pereria to The Gothamist, “The police took the suitcases, people dispersed.”
Mayor Eric Adams blamed the protesters for the chaos, calling them “agitators.” Later, he thanked the migrants for dispersing.
More than 42,000 migrants have arrived in New York City since last year, and the influx has shown no signs of slowing down. Since last summer, migrants have arrived almost daily from Texas and Florida – both of which are struggling with their own migrant crises. Adams has blamed Governors Abbott and DeSantis for NYC’s predicament, but he has also been critical of President Biden.
“It’s a real embarrassment, I believe, on a national level, and we must have an appropriate response. We have had conversations around the issues of migrants for decades. This is a national issue. It must have a national response,” Adams said earlier this month.
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The border has been struck with a record number of migrant encounters since Biden took office, totaling 2.3 million in the fiscal year 2022. The city’s Department of Homeless Services estimates that more than 70,000 migrants live in shelters.
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