Over a dozen asylum seekers gathered at a church in Washington Heights Tuesday to speak out about mistreatment they say they face in temporary shelters and hotels in the city. Many were bused from Texas.
“They treat us inside the hotel like a criminal,” said Akon Patrick.
“Many of us coming here because our life was in danger where we come from. That’s the reason. So we come here. It’s not to give problems to Americans,” he continued.
Patrick, who is originally from Haiti, has been staying at the Row Hotel with his family since October. His list of complaints is long but the most severe is the maltreatment he says he encounters by workers daily and the very limited food, if any at all that’s provided.
“We have like days we don’t eat. We eat only banana and pineapple,” said Patrick.
Patrick has a 13-year-old daughter and a pregnant wife — the baby is due in March. He said with no income he walks looking for food most days.
“What I supposed to do, I can’t let my wife make the day without eating anything,” said Patrick.
On Monday, Mayor Eric Adams warned of a strain on city resources with the expectation of a new surge of migrants to the city. To date over 31,000 asylum seekers have come to the city — with more than 21,000 still in the city’s care.
As a result, officials have opened 60 emergency shelters.
Advocates say the resources used are not being used well.
“What’s being asked for is accountability. Investigation and accountability into the funding so if $1 billion is being allocated for the support of migrants, there needs to be much more oversight, much more accountability into the sites,” said Ariadna Phillips with the Mutal Aid Collective.
For Patrick, as days progress, he grows more and more concerned for his family — especially his wife who has anemia — he said they simply just want kind help.
“She has anemia, so I don’t know what to do,” said Patrick
“I would like to say to all American government, please help us,” he added. “Nobody needs to be treated this way like they are treating us now.”