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Some parents refuse to drop off kids at P.S. 188 in Brooklyn while gym is being used to shelter asylum seekers

Growing anger over decision to shelter asylum seekers in schools
Growing anger over decision to shelter asylum seekers in schools 02:32

NEW YORK -- There's outrage as New York City turns to public schools to house asylum seekers.

Public School 188, an elementary school in Coney IslandBrooklyn, is already in use and sources told CBS2's Marcia Kramer that asylum seekers could be heading to at least six more schools.

The gym at P.S. 188 already has 75 asylum seekers in residence. But as Mayor Eric Adams desperately tries to find space to house more, CBS2 has learned P.S. 172 in Sunset Park, P.S. 189 in Crown Heights and several Williamsburg schools, including Middle School 577, are being readied to cope with the influx. 

"It is absolutely not a good thing for students. This puts the safety of New York City students at risk. We are talking about unvetted, foreign nationals, migrants, coming from all over the world. We don't know anything about them. We don't know their background. We don't know what they're capable of," said Mona Davids, with the New York City School Safety Coalition. "This is not acceptable."

While some parents were understanding, many CBS2 spoke with voiced fear and outrage about what their kids could be subjected to.

"I'm not sending my kids to school because at the end of the day there could be pedophiles coming in. There could be people trying to kidnap our kids. They could have weapons. They could have drugs. They could have anything," a parent said. 

Asylum seekers in NYC could be housed in up to 6 schools 02:52

"I don't agree with them coming to this school," said Cathy Francois, of Crown Heights.

"That doesn't work for me, not with the kids at least there. No, that doesn't work for me al all," said Juan Martinez, of Williamsburg.

"I'm taking them home," said an angry parent, one of those who refused to drop off their kids at P.S. 188 on Monday.

"Everybody needs a chance in life. Everybody's going through something," said Julia Sepuleda.

"I am Ukrainian, myself, and I support refugees," another person said.

"I just hope they take the proper measures with security," said Soraida Flores, of Coney Island.

"They should have a different type of building or something for adults," said Monique Hardie.

"Why should they be in there with those adults? Those are men and women. We don't know where these people come from," a parent said. "It's the mayor and the chancellor. I really blame the chancellor."

Parents express anger at Mayor Adams for housing asylum seekers in city schools 02:20

Over at P.S. 172, the preparations were nearly done Monday night. Video shot inside shows the cots and supplies ready for migrants arriving this week.

Outside the school, family members of students rallied.

"We want them here the right way, not this way," Myrna Negron said.

"As staff members, we are not going to feel safe, no matter who is it," Anny Naupari said.

"We aren't against immigration. This just wasn't planned out correctly," Aramis Rosa said.

Some of their issues are a lack of space, bathroom facilities and construction at the school.

"We have a very small space to work with. To have children moving around and asylum seekers moving around, the likelihood there will be contact between the two parties is not guaranteed," said Samantha Clark, P.S. 172 PTA co-president.

City Councilman Ari Kagan blasted the policy, saying, "Our communities should not become a victim of misguided policies of federal government and poor management of this growing crisis." 

The city recently opened more than 150 emergency sites and eight large-scale humanitarian relief centers to serve more than 65,000 asylum seekers.

Adams said, "We received more than 4,200 asylum seekers last week alone ... We are opening emergency shelters and respite centers daily, but we are out of space. Nothing is off the table as we work to fill our moral mandate, but we should all expect this crisis to affect every city service."

Meanwhile, the union representing school safety agents filed a complain with the city, saying it's inappropriate to "forcibly" assign safety agents to monitor asylum seekers sent to schools.

"I don't think there's anyone that thinks that putting migrants in schools is ideal or that schools should be used for that purpose," said City Councilman Justin Brannan. "I think the larger issue here is what are we doing to get people through the system. Because if all we're doing is warehousing people, then there's no end in sight."

Parents were notified about the plan to use schools as shelters on Friday. It's a temporary solution, according to the city, but no one has said for sure when the asylum seekers will leave.

Mayor Adams wants Gov. Kathy Hochul's help finding other places in the state for asylum seekers to stay.

City officials said, in addition to providing funding, the Biden administration has to expedite the flow of work permits. Currently, the government insists the asylum seekers wait six months before they can get one.

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