Mayor Eric Adams has issued a new policy limiting the time migrant families can stay in shelters with children to 60 days amid a rise in migrants within the city.
After this duration, the migrants are required to reapply for shelter if they haven’t secured alternative housing.
This new direction extends from a pre-existing policy restricting adult migrants without accompanying children to a mere 30-day stay in these shelters.
While the administration’s objective is to provide migrants with more intensified casework services for finding permanent housing, the move has been met with opposition.
Critics, including some City Council members, believe this policy could disrupt the asylum application process.
A predominant apprehension is the obligation for asylum seeking migrants to perpetually update their residential addresses, which is pivotal for them to receive essential notifications from the federal government regarding their asylum status.
At a City Council hearing on Wednesday, Council Member Shahana Hanif, chair of the Committee on Immigration, expressed, “This adds to the reason why I feel that the 30 to 60 day directives are harmful and creates deeper precarity for asylum-seekers.”
The necessity of having a consistent address becomes even more acute given that a significant portion of these asylum seeking migrants rely on mail, not online services, for their application processes.
To navigate this quagmire, the city has rolled out the Asylum Application Help Center, explicitly created to aid these migrants through their application processes.
Masha Gindler, executive director of the center, highlighted that their team is dedicated to managing changes of address and venue for clients.
She stated, “I’m confident that with the counseling we do at the end of our appointments, folks understand that they need to let the federal government know where they live, or else they will miss important mail.”
Gindler mentioned the city is pushing for online application filings to streamline the process.
She said that many migrants approaching their 30 or 60 day limits already plan their next steps, and the center assists with address changes.
Gindler noted that legal constraints hinder the city from redirecting mail after it reaches its intended location.
According to the executive director, the city is exploring legal options to allow clients to authorize mail transfers from one shelter to another.