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Faith leaders demonstrate outside Roosevelt Hotel, call for more help for asylum seekers

Faith leaders rally in NYC, ask feds for funding to help with asylum seeker crisis
Faith leaders rally in NYC, ask feds for funding to help with asylum seeker crisis 02:07

NEW YORK -- Religious leaders from across the city rallied outside a Midtown asylum seekers shelter on Wednesday, calling for more resources and saying even their houses of worship are overwhelmed.

CBS New York spoke to people who hoped they could escape their situations for the American dream, but are finding the reality is much harder.

READ MOREMayor Eric Adams says asylum seeker crisis in NYC is so dire, he's looking for shelter space outside

Caroline, a mother from Venezuela, said in Spanish she tried to register with The Roosevelt Hotel but was told, "We had to leave because they had run out of space. We went to sleep on the street until this morning. We returned because it was just too cold."

She said she hasn't been able to get a work permit and can't go back to Venezuela because her life was threatened.

Frankie, a 23-year-old also from Venezuela, said he had false expectations of what it would be like to come to the U.S.

"We have no documentation to work. We understand that the city is running out of space. They want to do good, but they keep on accepting more people. This has to be controlled," he said.

READ MOREFDNY shuts down shelter for asylum seekers in Midtown Manhattan, citing inadequate fire alarm system

Dozens of faith leaders marched outside The Roosevelt Hotel, which has been operating as an arrival center for asylum seekers during the crisis. They're calling on the state and federal government for more help as their houses of worship are overwhelmed with requests.

"We want to help everyone. That's what the Bible tells us to do. But we just can't. We're so overpopulated. We don't have the funds. That's why we're asking the federal government to help us," said Bishop Fernando Rodriguez of the Fellowship of Christian Churches.

READ MORENew York City homeless advocate proposes giving asylum seekers housing vouchers instead of putting them in hotels

The faith leaders are also calling for work authorizations for West Africans and Haitians.

"Our Haitian brothers and sisters have been enriching the tapestry of the city and our nation with vibrant culture, strong work ethics," one person said.

"America is a dream to come to work, but if you find yourself in America, here, you don't get a job. You're on the street or you think the government help you. No reason to come to America if you don't get a job," said Sora Yara, an advocate for West African immigrants.

"I don't think people realize the condition when they get here. We're about to hit winter. Some of them, the expectation is they're going to get a job right away," said Pastor Joselyn Rodriguez, an advocate for Venezuelan immigrants.

More than 130,000 asylum seekers have arrived in New York City since the spring, with more than 65,000 still in shelters.

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