Staten Island Faith-Based Community Coalition Arms Immigrant Defense Plan

In Staten Island, a coalition of community organizations and faith leaders came together to reinforce with one voice: Immigrants are New York! This cry was heard in the only republican political stronghold in the Big Apple, where the congresswoman of that electoral circuit and councilors have openly refused to offer shelters to thousands of people recently arrived from South America.

“Some elected officials have ruthlessly attacked asylum seekers, who have come here seeking to escape the political instability and violence they have suffered in their home countries,” he said. Murad Awawdeh, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition (NYCI).

Right in front of the headquarters of the labor defense organization La Colmena, in Port Richmond, leaders of the Family Life Center, the Central Baptist Church and Muslim Sisters, reiterated the call to the community to offer “love, hugs and help”.

“Our organizations and our neighbors defend immigrants. Starting from scratch is not easy. For this reason, since they arrived, we have integrated to welcome them. The demand for help is very high. That is why we reinforce the call to cooperate with these families,” he cried. Yesenia Matadirector of La Colmena.

A new collection point for donations was opened in the Central Family Life Center in Stapletonfor people interested in helping these immigrants with coats, jackets, slippers, socks, underwear and toiletries.

Several community-based organizations joined to put together an aid plan for hundreds of immigrants. (Photo: F. Martinez)

Voices of rejection in Staten Island

Since May, New York City has welcomed more than 18,000 immigrants as part of what Mayor Eric Adams called a “humanitarian crisis.” 90% of them are Venezuelans.

The city’s already collapsed shelter system hit a record high in October, with at least 62,070 people housed. This forced to establish 42 emergency shelters in city hotels.

It is estimated that at least 600 people, just 4%they were sent to unoccupied Staten Island hotels.

Frontally, the republican representative of the Staten Island 11th Precinct, Nicole Malliotakis, the daughter of a Cuban refugee, who is running for re-election, has insisted in her campaign that this immigration opening is a risk to the “quality of life” of her constituents. This speech has also been endorsed by the Republican leadership in the City Council.

“Our community is very concerned. They are individuals without work authorization. They have not received a response on their asylum applications, so they cannot legally work. These people can get desperate at some point and resort to criminal activities to survive”, assured the legislator during a campaign event.

Similarly, Malliotakis has also called on Mayor Adams to reassess New York’s right to housing law, which allows anyone access to the City-run homeless shelter system, arguing that “it should not apply to citizens of other countries.”

“People are very upset, because our homeless people remain on the streets while the people who cross into our country illegally, are accommodated in hotels”, he finished.

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