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Know Your Rights
Source: Gothamist
Subject: Immigration

Black migrants in New York experiencing scarcity and inequity, new study says

Black migrants in New York City are more likely than their Latin American counterparts to receive an eviction notice from a city shelter, go without food or lack warm clothing, according to a report released on Thursday by three immigrant rights and community-based organizations.

Black migrants also faced significant employment barriers, with 85% stating they lacked job training, compared to 52% of Latin American migrants. Only 7% of Black migrants said they had applied for federal work authorization, compared to 32% of other migrants, according to the findings.

Make the Road New York, Hester St. and Afrikana jointly authored a report titled “Leaving Behind the Newest New Yorkers,” which was based on a survey of 586 migrants conducted in February.

The report highlighted a host of inequities that advocates said demand policymakers’ attention. It comes as advocates and members of the City Council have refocused on the experience of Black migrants, who have recently come to account for a growing share of the city’s new arrivals as more European nations narrow their portals for accepting migrants.

“We believe that it could be a moment of opportunities,” said Natalia Aristizabal, the deputy director of immigrant rights group Make the Road New York. “Unfortunately the narrative around this population has not been a good one, so we want to be able to humanize people’s story and the experiences that they are going through at this time.”

Kayla Mamelak, a spokesperson for Mayor Eric Adams, said in a statement that New York continues to lead the nation in “managing this national humanitarian crisis.”

She said more than 65% of the more than 194,200 migrants “who have come through our care since the spring of 2022” had moved out of the city’s sprawling shelter system and taken the “next steps in their journeys.”

“While we are proud of the incredible compassion and care we’ve been able to provide to migrants largely on our own, let’s be very clear,” she said. “A national crisis requires a national solution.”

According to the report, Venezuelans account for the largest share of migrants, representing 41% of the survey’s respondents, down 23% from 2023. Meanwhile, Guineans and Ecuadorians each comprise 18% of the respondents, up substantially from last year.

The report noted that Black migrants, primarily from West African nations, have especially struggled since arriving in New York City. The migrants themselves have long noted that they face language barriers and lack of access to interpreters who speak their languages.

While 66% of single adults from Latin America received a 30- or 60-day notice to leave a city shelter or reapply, the figure rose to 93% for Black single adults. Just 1 in 20 respondents said they were able to secure stable housing after leaving a shelter.

Further, 64% of Latin American migrants reported receiving three full meals a day, compared to 45% of Black migrants who said the same. And 50% of Latin American migrants said they had access to warm clothing, compared to just 27% of Black migrants.

“The mayor has continued to cut critical services for new arrivals and created additional barriers that have made it even harder for many to settle in New York City, which has been a sanctuary city for over three decades,” reads the report. “This study documents the devastating impacts of such policy decisions.”

David Giffen, with the advocacy group Coalition for the Homeless, said in response to the findings, “It’s a shameful response to a humanitarian crisis. I mean, where are people supposed to go, for God’s sake?”

Mamelak said in her statement, “Instead of criticizing the herculean response of the city that has done more for migrants than any other city in the nation, we would ask our partners at Make the Road to join us in calling on the federal government for meaningful financial support, to create a national resettlement strategy for migrants, and to finish the job they started by allowing the hundreds of thousands of those they let into this country to immediately work.”

Respondents to the survey were reached at a number of shelters across the city, including The Row Hotel, the Roosevelt Hotel, Floyd Bennett Field, Randall’s Island shelters and other facilities.

According to the report, 68% of the respondents were under 35 and 75% were Latin American, while 21% were Black. The report also said 54% of respondents traveled to New York with children under the age of 21. Among Black migrants, that figure was just 12%, as three-quarters of them were adults traveling alone.

While 69% of respondents had an upcoming court date, only 6% said they had a lawyer to represent them in immigration court. For 70% of respondents, high costs were the biggest barrier to legal representation, while 39% said they didn’t know where to find a lawyer.

Aristizabal said the findings were evidence that the city needed to invest in lawyers as migrants without legal representation faced potentially serious consequences.

“If they take longer than a year, then they can no longer apply for asylum,” she said, adding that the city also needs to provide more opportunities for English language education so that migrants would be better prepared for potential job opportunities.