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Migrants rally at NYC's City Hall, want officials to make it easier for them to work

Black migrants rally outside New York City Hall to demand better treatment
Black migrants rally outside New York City Hall to demand better treatment 02:28

NEW YORK - Hundreds of Black migrants, many from African countries, showed up at City Hall Tuesday demanding better treatment. 

They say they just want a job, and basic shelter. 

The migrants and their advocates say they've received unfair treatment and have been left forgotten. The rally at City Hall was a bid to get attention of state and federal lawmakers. They're hoping changes could be made to immigration laws, and they could help contribute to the economy. 

They said they want to work, and are trying to cut through the red tape that's stopping them. They asked for local leaders to put more pressure on Washington, D.C. to make a change. 

Dozens rallied on the steps outside City Hall, and hundreds gathered in support nearby while inside the City Council chambers, tears were shed for all Black migrants impacted by what advocates are calling unfair treatment. 

"They are here to show you that they belong, and that they are here and that they should not be erased. Please listen to them," said Patrice Lawrence, executive director of the UndocuBlack Network. 

Tuesday, City Council members held their first meeting to learn more about the experiences Black migrants have been going through in New York. 

"Black migrants have reported verbal and physical abuse due to the color of their skin," one person said. 

Federal immigration laws are either slowing down the process for these migrants to get working permits or, depending on what country they come from, it makes them ineligible. 

"But when they give us work permits, we can work and take care of ourselves," one person said.

Mohammed Bah said he came from Guinea five months ago ready to work. 

"Anywhere you go to find a job, they ask for working papers," Bah said. 

Gov. Kathy Hochul has tried to speed along the process, but to no avail. 

"We need real immigration reform," Mayor Eric Adams said. "Something is just not right and we need to fix it."

"It's clear our immigration system is broken, and needs overhauling," New York City Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Manuel Castro said. 

The migrants at City Hall are also upset over language access barriers and temporary shelters, saying 30 days isn't long enough. 

One mother and her two children who have been staying at the humanitarian relief center at Floyd Bennett Field said the city should provide more assistance. 

"What I expected to have was help from the American people, and I don't see it," she said. 

The relief center continues to be a point of contention for Republican Councilmember Vickie Paladino, who said the city is already giving the migrants too much. 

"This is absolute, absolute insanity at its finest," Paladino said. "How much more are we going to do for the illegal migrants that are coming into the city?"

"Find solutions for all African community," one person said. "They're young guys. They're 19 or 20 years old, so they're ready to work. But we need to get better conditions for these guys."

"I'm very upset about it, because I was not thinking it would be this way. lack of shelter. Lack of many things. Lack of jobs," said another. 

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