Twenty public-school gyms in NYC are being evaluated as shelters as local government struggles to house new arrivals.
Parents at New York City schools are up in arms over the city’s plans to house hundreds of migrants in school gyms across the five boroughs after Mayor Eric Adams announced on Tuesday that the program had expanded its sites from six to 20 gyms.
“We welcome them, just not to our school,” parent Aramis Rosa told Eyewitness News, explaining the protesting parents outside PS 172 were worried “about our kids’ safety.” Rosa said parents were not even consulted beforehand, while migrants were moved in under cover of darkness.
School officials promised that “individuals and families” would be kept to the standalone gym buildings under consideration, insisting “this should not impact school operations, nor will the families have access to any other part of the school where students and staff are.”
However, the gym at Rosa’s children’s school in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park neighborhood is located adjacent to the schoolyard where kids play. Attendance at PS 172 was reportedly down 25% on Tuesday as parents elected to keep their kids home en masse.
“Put them in the people who are elected who put them in place, put them in their backyards because you’ve dumped on us long enough,” another parent told the news outlet. The six schools that have definitively been selected for migrant housing are all located in Brooklyn, while 14 more are still being evaluated for suitability.
The New York School Safety Coalition urged the city to find another solution, expressing concern about the safety of students at the affected schools. The city has not revealed how long it plans to house the migrants –almost exclusively adult men– at the gyms.
“I don’t feel safe having adult men with no criminal background checks or health screenings living at our children’s school,” Richard Cabo, father of a sixth-grader at MS 577, told the New York Post as another group of parents protested turning their kids’ gym into a migrant shelter.
Adams’ office reminded parents that over 4,200 illegal immigrants had arrived the previous week and hundreds more were showing up every day. “We are out of space,” they wrote in a statement, warning “nothing is off the table as we work to fill our moral mandate” and that the “crisis” could be expected to “affect every city service.”
The city has been commandeering hotels for migrants for months, while efforts to bus hundreds more upstate have met with open hostility from local governments. Orange and Rockland counties recently issued executive orders prohibiting local hotels from accepting Adams’ migrants.
Image credit: Digital Buggu