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New York City considering housing asylum seekers at shuttered federal prison

NYC wants to house asylum seekers at closed federal prison
NYC wants to house asylum seekers at closed federal prison 02:33

NEW YORK - New York City wants to house migrants at a closed federal prison that once jailed mobsters.

That's not the only location the city is considering as they struggle to find housing for thousands of asylum seekers.

So far, the city says it has opened more than 200 sites, including 13 relief centers. 

Friday afternoon, the city said over 101,000 migrants have arrived in New York City since the crisis began, and that number continues to go up. 

"We have opened up 200 sites and we are out of space. Good spaces, OK spaces. These are spaces available. All options are on the table," Deputy Mayor for Communications Fabien Levy said. 

Levy held a news conference outside the Roosevelt Hotel in Midtown Manhattan Friday, a site that has reached capacity for migrants. 

"We are appreciative of what the governor and state have done, but we need more," Levy said. 

He said over 101,000 migrants are now in New York City, and 59,000 are living in 202 emergency shelters across the five boroughs with hundreds still coming in every day. 

"Yesterday alone almost 500 people were registered," Levy said. 

The city is asking the state to consider turning other facilities into shelters to house the influx of asylum seekers, including the Jacob Javits Center, SUNY dormitories, and closed prisons like the Metropolitan Correctional Center in lower Manhattan, which closed in 2021 following Jeffrey Epstein's suicide

"Certain places, most definitely, must be off the table, and MCC is not a suitable location for anyone, let alone anyone who's trying to set up a new life in a new country," Murad Awawdeh of the NYC Immigration Coalition said. 

"No decision has been made on that. That's not even a place we've toured, because it's a federal site, we have to go into it. But sadly, all options are on table," Levy said. 

The city is asking for a federal declaration of emergency to be issued in New York City, so more resources can become available. 

City leaders are also asking for state partners to do their part after Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman's statemen on Lon Long Island this week. 

"We are not inviting immigrants and migrants into the county," Blakeman said. 

"We asked the governor to issue an order that would stop localities across the state," Levy said. 

In Midtown, the owner of a jewelry store next to the Roosevelt Hotel said housing asylum seekers so close to his business has been challenging. 

"They promised they are going to reopen the hotel. The Roosevelt Hotel had five star customers," Avi Behar said. 

The city says the emergency shelter on Randall's Island is expected to open on the coming days, and will house 2,000 adults.

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