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Roosevelt Hotel opens as official asylum seekers arrival center, will house families with children

NYC opens new Midtown arrivals center for asylum seekers
NYC opens new Midtown arrivals center for asylum seekers 01:50

NEW YORK --- The Roosevelt Hotel in Manhattan opened as the new arrivals center for asylum seekers on Friday, but New York City's immigration commissioner admitted it's unclear if the city can continue finding space. 

The 850-room hotel in Midtown will be the official port of entry for asylum seekers after Mayor Eric Adams' office closed the welcoming center at the Port Authority Bus Terminal. 

The hotel will provide legal, medical and other services in addition to housing. 

"It will open up more space for families and children," said Manuel Castro, commissioner of the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs.

As another bus of asylum seekers arrived, it enabled the city to assist in an unexpected way. 

"Just today at one of our humanitarian centers, one of the asylum seekers gave birth to a child," said Castro. "In one of our emergency humanitarian centers." 

While the city received intense pushback as it tried to send asylum seekers to public school gyms or nearby suburban counties, the new arrivals got a special welcome at the Roosevelt: free pizza from a local business. 

"I guess at one point everyone was an immigrant, and I think this is very emotional and it's a really nice thing that is done," said Dino Redzic, who co-owns Uncle Paul's Pizza. 

Asylum seekers arrive at Roosevelt Hotel in Manhattan 01:46

The magnitude of the city's problem is evident in the latest numbers. Over 65,000 asylum seekers have arrived here, with thousands more expected. As of Wednesday, 42,400 were being sheltered, including 9,000 who are attending public schools in the city. 

"We don't know if this is something we can sustain for much longer," said Castro. 

In an appearance on "The Point with Marcia Kramer," Castro blamed inaction by the Biden administration for exacerbating the city's problems. It has not only failed to come up with the funds, he said, but also refuses to approve work permits for the migrants. 

"In many ways we have bailed out the federal government. They would have more of a crisis on their hands. They would have children, families sleeping on the streets if it was not for New York City stepping up," said Castro. 

Castro said city officials have looked at over 500 locations, including Rikers Island, for housing asylum seekers, as more arrive. 

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