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Asylum seekers in New York City face long waits to get immigration paperwork processed amid backlog of cases

Asylum seekers in New York City face long waits amid processing delays
Asylum seekers in New York City face long waits amid processing delays 02:15

NEW YORK -- For months, buses of migrants from the United States-Mexico border have been arriving in New York City unannounced.

CBS2's Natalie Duddridge spoke to people who say they've been waiting in extremely long lines to get their immigration paperwork processed.

One woman from Venezuela, who didn't give us her name, told us she waited overnight to be one of around 300-500 people seen daily in Manhattan's federal immigration court, hoping to apply for asylum.

More than 7 million Venezuelans have fled the country over political and economic chaos, violence and poverty.

RELATED STORY: Adams says pace of migrants arriving in NYC "unsustainable," calls for "decompression strategy"

The woman tells us to get to America, she traveled through seven countries, a journey that included 18 days trekking through the Darién jungle in Central America.

A month later, she crossed the border into El Paso, Texas, where she says she spent three days at a detention center and was eventually put on a bus and sent to New York.

She's one of 22,000 migrants who have been arriving by bus to New York City's Port Authority, all requiring food, shelter and medical care, leading Mayor Eric Adams to declare a state of emergency.

"We are in a crisis situation," Adams said.

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The buses, mostly organized by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, have been sent without warning to give Democratic sanctuary cities like New York City a share of the burden.

"Is his fight with the national policy or is his fight with New Yorkers?" Adams said Sunday night on "60 Minutes." "He created this humanitarian crisis by his human hands, his actions. There was nothing that prevented him from communicating with our team, or saying, 'How do we coordinate this so we don't overburden another municipality?'"

The asylum process can take years.

CBS2 reached out to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. A spokesperson says they are working to address the processing delays exacerbated by the pandemic. ICE didn't say how many cases were already backlogged before the arrival of these additional 22,000 migrants.

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