On Friday, February 3rd, New York City Mayor Eric Adams spent the night at the new Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Center migrant shelter in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Seen as an attempt to ward off criticism of his handling of the migrants, Adams stayed in the converted Brooklyn Cruise Terminal on the coldest day of the year with the migrants.
While Adams was at the shelter, he played video games with the migrants. He said, “We are going to stay tonight with our brothers here and just let them know that we are all in this together. This is how you get through things.”
Mayor Adams’ stay at the migrant shelter was not included in the public schedule for the mayor.
In addition to Mayor Adams, Assemblyman Edward Gibbs and homeless advocate Shams DaBaron stayed in the shelter as well. Mayor Adams arrived at the migrant shelter a little before midnight, slept in one of the cots provided to the migrants, stayed for breakfast at the shelter the next day, and then left before 10 a.m.
After spending the night at the migrant shelter, the Adams Administration released a statement ensuring the public that the migrants are being taken care of. Earlier in the week, a group of migrants that were previously being housed at the Watson Hotel refused to be transferred to the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal shelter. The group of more than 50 asylum-seeking migrants stood outside the Hell’s Kitchen hotel on Sunday, January 29. 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. This was the belief that Mayor Adams was working to discredit by his stay in the shelter.
In his statement, Mayor Adams said, “I would never ask anyone to do something I wouldn’t be willing to do myself, so last night, on the coldest night of the year, Assemblymember Gibbs, Shams, and I wanted to show the asylum seekers staying at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal the warmth of New York City.”
Mayor Adams continued, “What we saw is what we have seen since the beginning of this crisis: individuals who are grateful to the greatest city in the world for providing them the opportunity to work towards the American Dream.”
While many voiced their concerns about the temperature inside the shelter and stated they felt cold, City Hall ensured that the Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Center migrant shelter would remain at 62 degrees, the city’s mandatory minimum indoor temperature for overnight. City Hall also stated that the heat would be turned up and extra blankets would be given to those who requested them.
Mario Peña, a 26-year-old migrant from Venezuela, shared his experience with Mayor Adams in the migrant shelter. “He was there feeling how cold it is, and he slept in the room with us. It was good that he shared with us. He slept in the middle of all of us on a cot. We tried to speak to him with our bad English,” he said.
Mayor Adams’ visit to the migrant shelter was well received by the migrants. 41-year-old Camilo Londono, another Venezuelan migrant, “It was great. I’m thankful for everything that [Adams] has given us: a place to live, food, clothes, healthcare. There are doctors here giving the chickenpox vaccine to those who want it. I just got mine 10 minutes ago. I’m thankful for everything he’s done – it’s all good.”
Following the protests of migrants not wanting to go to the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal migrant shelter, a representative from the Mayor’s Office released a statement saying, “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. 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.”
Though the stay at the migrant shelter showed the city’s continuous support and effort to provide the migrants with shelter and resources, the statement also said, “We remain in serious need of support from both our state and federal governments.”