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Asylum seekers line up overnight for chance to get their cases processed in federal immigration court

Asylum seekers line up overnight for chance in federal court
Asylum seekers line up overnight for chance in federal court 02:25

NEW YORK -- Thousands of people seeking asylum in New York City waited in line overnight to guarantee a spot in federal immigration court

CBS2's Natalie Duddridge spoke with people trying to get their cases processed. 

At 11 p.m. Sunday, at least 20 people were already lined up outside 26 Federal Plaza waiting for asylum hearings. By 5 a.m. Monday, the line extended around the building. 

Many were wrapped in blankets, some tried to sleep on benches, holding children. 

"More 100, more 100, more 100 people," said a woman named Antonia from Colombia. "Three in the morning, somebody here. The line is long, they sleeping here."

She said she has come with her family several times and been turned away. 

"I can't, I can't he said a lot of people inside," she said. "Nobody go more inside."

One man said around 6 a.m. security guards came outside and let the first 500 people inside, then sent the rest home. 

"Open the door 6-o-clock, close the door 9-o-clock," he said. "Three hours, it's too many people."

Many of the people in line are immigrants from Venezuela fleeing political and economic turmoil. 

One woman said she journeyed through seven countries and eventually crossed the border into El Paso, Texas. She was then bused to New York, sent by Gov. Greg Abbott along with 22,000 other migrants who have been arriving without warning. 

Mayor Eric Adams called out Gov. Abbott on "60 Minutes."  

"Is his fight with the national policy, or is his fight with New Yorkers?" Adams asked. "He created this humanitarian crisis by his human hands, his actions. There was nothing that prevented him from communicating with our team, saying how do we coordinate this so we don't overburden another municipality."

We reached out to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and a spokesperson said it's working to address the processing delays, saying they were exacerbated by the pandemic. 

"We just don't have the personnel, the resources, the infrastructure or the right processes to manage what's happening there well right now," said Theresa Cardinal Brown, an immigration policy advisor with the Bipartisan Policy Center, adding the asylum process can take years. 

The woman we spoke with from Venezuela said no matter how long it takes, she's thankful she made it safely to New York City. 

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