New York City has launched a new initiative called a “reticketing center,” providing migrants with free one-way plane tickets to destinations of their choice.
Mayor Eric Adams orchestrated this strategy, which aims to alleviate pressure on the city’s strained shelter system.
The center, located in a converted church office in the East Village, was specifically established to assist asylum-seeking migrants planning to leave the city, according to City Hall officials.
Kayla Mamelak, City Hall spokesperson, said in a statement,” With no sign of a decompression strategy in the near future, we have established a reticketing center for migrants. Here, the city will redouble efforts to purchase tickets for migrants to help them take the next steps in their journeys.”
The initiative is seen as a cost-effective measure, with the expense of a plane ticket often being less than the $380 per day cost of housing a migrant in a city shelter.
Adams also cautioned that migrants choosing to remain in New York might face a winter of sleeping outdoors due to the fully occupied shelters.
The mayor said on Tuesday, “When you are out of room, that means you’re out of room. Every year, my relatives show up for Thanksgiving, and they want to all sleep at my house. There’s no more room. That’s where we are right now.”
Media reports indicate that some migrants have already booked flights to countries like Colombia and Morocco. However, the exact destinations and the number of asylum-seeking migrants who have requested to leave are not yet clear.
Several migrants reported confusion regarding the purpose of the center. A 30-year-old migrant from Guinea, while talking to the New York Post, expressed, “They didn’t tell me anything. They discharged me and said to go to this address. I expected when they gave me this address I was going to stay here for a little while until I find a solution.”
A group of migrants from Venezuela and Ecuador, having been removed from their shelter, found themselves at the reticketing center without any desire to be flown elsewhere.
The reticketing center is part of the city’s wider strategy to handle the ongoing influx of asylum-seeking migrants. This strategy involves reducing the maximum stay at city-run shelters to 60 days for families and 30 days for single adults. After this period, migrants must reapply to regain entry into the shelter system.