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Residents protest asylum seeker shelter at Sunset Park Recreation Center

2 Brooklyn rec centers now being used to house asylum seekers
2 Brooklyn rec centers now being used to house asylum seekers 02:13

NEW YORK -- This weekend marks one year since the first bus of asylum seekers arrived in New York from Texas.

Two controversial sites in Brooklyn just opened for them.

Dozens of people rallied Sunday outside the city's newest respite center for asylum seekers -- the Sunset Park Recreation Center.

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To the left of the line for people to go swimming is the entrance for those in search of the American dream.

"This place is supposed to be for children and seniors and families," said Nancy Tong, Democratic District 47 leader.

"They put 100 male here without checking background. Parents are worried," resident Susan Zhuang said.

"It is not built for housing," Assemblyman William Colton said.

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Some residents told CBS New York the center had been closed for a month for repairs, but one woman claimed senior services are now being curtailed without notice.

"They tell me they pay for membership," Joy Zhang said.

The city says there are cots for up to 100 men to sleep in the gym. CBS New York was told at least 60 slept there Saturday night.

Javier, a 24-year-old from Venezuela, said through a translator he came to New York because he heard there were construction jobs here.

"They're appreciative there's a roof over their heads and that they've been welcomed here," he said.

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The Masbia Relief Team and other volunteers held a potluck for the asylum seekers and handed out clothing.

"We're here to just say immigrants are welcome here," executive director Alex Rapaport said.

Just after midnight Sunday, asylum seekers also arrived to stay at the McCarren Recreation Center in Williamsburg. Around 100 cots have been set up in one wing. The city says they won't have access to the pool and fitness center.

Leaders say they were given just 24 hours notice about both centers.

"The concerns around the center is the heat and the way they're being housed," Assemblywoman Marcel Mitaynes said. "We don't know what issues they're facing, what services or help they need."

Immigration advocate Power Malu said he feels Mayor Eric Adams is sending a message with the makeshift centers.

"They've been trying to dissuade people from coming here to this country and they've been trying to get funds from the federal government," Malu said.

In Williamsburg, the city says asylum seekers will have specified times to use the showers in the pool area. That way, they're not accessing them at the same time as the public.

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