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From Texas to The Big Apple: Migrant Life in America

Nana Sam, Grade 11, Staff Writer

 

In 2022, migrants began crossing the border, heading to Florida and Texas. Criticized by northern Democrats, Republican governors in these states decided to send the migrants to northern liberal states, aiming to provoke the leaders there with the challenge of an immigrant influx. Common Sense looks at the effect on our community.


They first sent over 13,000 people to the city, but more migrants followed once they heard of New York’s benefits. Immigrants were attracted to New York’s “right to shelter” mandate which requires the city to provide temporary housing for every homeless person upon request. 


What started as 13,300 grew to 116,000 migrants by the spring of 2022. Most migrants came from the US-Mexico border, seeking refuge and protection under the law without the fear of deportation. At first, New York gladly accepted the migrants, but as challenges began to arise, state officials started looking for alternative options to manage the rapid growth in immigration. 


With the rush of people entering, the city’s leaders faced their first big problem: money and funding. NYC’s annual revenue is already split among multiple programs and now it has to add the care of migrants to their checklist. 


It is estimated that the city is going to soon lose $12 billion if the crisis continues. Kathy Hochul and Mayor Adams are both stumped on how the city is going to raise enough money. At the height of this problem, government officials have started to point fingers at each other to try to find a solution.


Then comes the problem of housing and managing the city’s newfound rise in homelessness. Initially, migrants who arrived at the border were led to a bus to New York, where they were supposed to be provided shelter and proper living conditions, however, with 2,000-3,000 people coming in weekly, this became hard to manage. 


Once shelters filled up, rec centers became the new hotspot for housing, and tents were set up in them. Eventually, there was also a need for more space at rec centers, which resulted in people sleeping on sidewalk floors. Some families have had to seek shelter in hotels or in other people’s houses. 


Fellow HSAS Junior Hayden Unger took in a Venezuelan family, a mother and two daughters, and explained how the mother would cook dinner and engage in playful activities with the two daughters. 


As of this year, 20,000 migrant children are getting access to new public schooling and are automatically accepted. However, some problems arise for these children, beginning with the language barrier between themselves and their peers and teachers. COVID-19 intensified the learning gap between migrant students and other students at the school. 


There is also a shortage of teachers and ESL teachers, making it difficult to manage the influx of new students. Adults too are affected by the language barrier. 


An immigrant from Venezuela, that was interviewed by Politico, Javier, claims “It is not only that the application is in English that is very hard for us, but there are questions we don’t understand. Even when they do translate them we need help.”


Even though New York is a haven to many migrants, they arrive with little money and can’t afford the living expenses that come with living in the city. 


“There are some students who used to go to my school that moved to Texas because they said that New York was too expensive and things in Texas are more affordable,” says former HSAS student Arshia Imtiaz. 


Also, Ecuadorian migrant Alejandra, who was interviewed by NPR, says, “It’s hard for us. It’s hard for a lot of families, New York is expensive.” 


“I said it last year when we had 15,000, and I’m telling you now at 110,000. The city we knew, we’re about to lose. [The migrant crisis] will destroy New York City.” These are the words of Mayor Adams, who used to welcome the migrants coming into NYC with open arms. 


Now he believes in closing its doors to migrants and sending out flyers to the border, telling them not to come to NYC. Right now, the US is at a stalemate and no one knows what move to play next. 


As political figures continue to point fingers at each other, more and more migrants are sleeping on the streets and are having a hard time adjusting to their new lives. We have yet to find out what is going to happen next to NYC, to the US government, and most importantly, to the migrants who just wanted to escape the hardships of their home country.

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