Asylum seekers wait on long lines in cold to get re-ticketed to stay in New York City shelters

NEW YORK — There were long lines out in the cold Tuesday at a re-ticketing center for asylum seekers in the East Village.

City officials said they’ve been predicting this as they continue to call out to the federal government for help.

The slow-moving line outside the former St. Brigid School on East 7th Street snaked around the corner.

“We are very tired, very tired,” one person said.

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The single asylum seekers that spoke to CBS New York have reached their 30-day stay limit at the city-run shelters.

“They wake you up and tell you you have to find a place, so you have to leave. They give you an address and you have to come here early,” one person said.

One man said without work authorization he can’t get a job and go find his own place.

Many stood out in the cold waiting for hours to re-apply for a spot.

“They have to go to a centralized place, which makes it easier. We’re running out of staff. We’re running out of money. We’re running out of space,” Deputy Mayor Anne Williams-Isom said.

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The city said it re-tickets some asylum seekers when they first arrive at shelters, giving them plane tickets out of New York City if they want them.

“We’re not trying to be on a merry-go-round of go through one door and come out the next. We want people to get re-settled in other places. We want people to be re-ticketed, especially now since it’s cold, if they want to go to a warmer environment be with family or other places,” Williams-Isom said.

She said about 20% of asylum seekers so far have not left.

“If you have nowhere else to go, they are still obligated to provide you shelter. There’s still a right to shelter in New York City,” said Kathryn Kliff, of the Legal Aid Society.

Mayor Eric Adams and his administration continue to call this the top issue the city is facing, with more than 140,000 asylum seekers arriving here since last spring.

“New York City cannot develop a national strategy. It must be developed by national leaders,” Adams said. “Why are we still dealing with this?”

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As Tuesday wore on, the line got a lot shorter. City officials said more than 50% of asylum seekers who have come through the city’s system are now self sufficient.

However, 2,000 to 3,000 more arrive every week.

The cap for migrant families with children is 60 days for city shelters.

The city said it is expanded the asylum application help center and will open two more sites to assist in applications for asylum, temporary protected status, and work authorization.

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