A group of more than 50 asylum-seeking migrants stood outside the Watson Hotel in Hell’s Kitchen on Sunday, January 29. The male migrants were supposed to be moved from the hotel to the newly opened Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Center at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal. The Brooklyn Cruise Terminal Relief Center was meant to be occupied by adult single male migrants. A group of the migrants had been moved to the relief center a few days before, however, they returned to the hotel claiming the relief center was not an appropriate living space, according to an activist. Some of the people standing outside the hotel claimed they were being forced out.
According to the NY Post, the group standing outside the hotel prompted the arrival of NYPD officers around 10 pm. The officers were stationed there to serve as crowd control. The migrants stood outside with activists who were providing food, water, and translations. It is reported that a bus arrived at the hotel, with very few of the asylum-seeking migrants boarding it. An activist present at the site told the NY Post that the majority of the migrants outside Watson Hotel were prepared to stand outside the hotel overnight.
City Hall Response
A representative from the Mayor’s Office released a statement. “More than 42,000 asylum seekers have arrived in New York City since last spring and we continue to surpass our moral obligations as we provide asylum seekers with shelter, food, health care, education, and a host of other services,” City Hall spokesperson Fabien Levy said. “The facilities at Brooklyn Cruise Terminal will provide the same services as every other humanitarian relief center in the city, and the scheduled relocations to Brooklyn Cruise Terminal this weekend took place as planned. We remain in serious need of support from both our state and federal governments.”
Mayor Adams has expressed doubts whether all the people who were camped outside the Watson Hotel were migrants. “From my analysis, about 30 are still there, and I’m not even sure they are migrants,” Adams said. “There are some agitators that I just really think are doing a disservice to the children and families that are moving into the hotels.”
The asylum-seeking migrants outside the hotel ended up occupying the space for a few nights, as a form of protest. The mayor’s office suggested that the migrants were being pushed to protest by migration activists and advocates. “It looks like the disruption outside the Watson Hotel yesterday was organized by local organizations and individuals who have repeatedly sought to stop our efforts to support the 43,000+ asylum seekers here in New York City,” an unnamed source from City Hall allegedly told the NY Post. However, on Wednesday, February 1st, the NYPD removed them from the scene, threatening arrest if they did not move.
Department of Sanitation staffers cleaned the sidewalk and disposed of any material that was left behind by the migrants.
City officials have indicated that the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal Relief Center is well-purposed to provide all the services new occupants were receiving in Watson Hotel. LittleAfrica News previously reported on the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal Relief Center. It was designed to be occupied by at least 1,000 male migrants. Some male migrants from the Watson Hotel would be shifted there to create room for families.