Jun. 6, 2023 By Dean Moses
Make the Road New York released on Tuesday afternoon a first-of-its-kind survey which the grassroots immigrant-led organization says underscores that the needs of new migrants are not being met in the Big Apple.
The survey claims to highlight a severe shortage of meaningful services for those continuing to arrive on the East Coast. The document questioned 766 migrants after arriving in New York in 2023, 65% of whom hailed from Venezuela with the second most respondents coming from Colombia at 14%.
Ninety-seven percent of these individuals currently live in NYC shelters while almost half of those who took the survey are under 30 years old at 43% and a whopping 84% traveled with children under the age of 30.
“What would make you pick up your baby and walk through a jungle? What were you trying to get away from? That’s what we have to think about. And we have to provide a humane response to a humanitarian crisis,” Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said at the Make the Road New York headquarters in Elmhurst at 92-10 Roosevelt Ave.
The survey paints a picture of a vastly underserved population, with 58% of migrants stating they are unable to pay for medical bills or have free access to healthcare, 26% state they do not have access to three meals a day or warm clothing, and 59% say they do not have access to transportation to make important appointments.
Sixty-three percent also say they have not been able to enroll in English classes. However, 95% of those who took the survey say they intend to seek asylum.
Although those at Make the Road New York refer to the survey as a major indicator to the areas that the local and federal government must improve, it remains merely a snapshot into the lives of those who are arriving in New York since only 766 migrants took the survey out of the some 72,000 who have entered the city and the 46,000 currently in the city’s care. Despite the small number of those surveyed, Make the Road New York says it is the largest survey to date.
Twenty-two-year-old Jesus made his way to the United States with his wife, two daughters, and other family members from Venezuela. With the help of a translator, he recounted the harrowing trek, including stating that the U.S. separated him from his family.
“The journey to get here has been very hard and full of difficulties. My youngest daughter was three months old when we started the trip and my other daughter was almost two years old. We have crossed several countries during our journey. One of my girls became dehydrated,” Jesus said. “It was a very traumatic experience for everyone. When we arrived, we were detained for a week. They separated me from my wife and my daughters. I could only see them after several days when they did DNA tests on us.”
Make the Road New York is calling upon the Biden administration to expedite work authorization for migrants, so people like Jesus can start supporting his family, something Mayor Eric Adams and Governor Kathy Hochul have also repeatedly called for. As the influx continues, the mayor is now also reportedly looking to houses of worship to house the flood of humanity.
Comptroller Brad Lander is also pushing for $140 million for legal services from the city to help migrants apply for asylum before their own year deadline is up, preventing them from being able to seek that status.
“Let’s remember we’re talking about you know, approximately 40,000 people to get to by the time their one-year deadline is up. This is an all-hands effort. It needs this money, but it’s also going to need pro bono lawyers and the work of law firms and law clinics and law students and community organizations if it’s going to work,” Lander said.