Midtown Tribune News Logo

Mayor Eric Adams Rallies for Federal Support to Help Serve Asylum Seekers

Pastor Gilford Monrose, Faith Advisor, Office of the Mayor: Okay, so we are ready to begin, and I want to say good afternoon to everyone. My name is Pastor Gil Monrose. I serve as the faith advisor to New York City Mayor Eric Adams. We are going to begin with a moment of prayer and silence today. Of course, over the weekend, some of us was praying in our houses of worship over the night in California. We know that 10 people were shot and killed who were celebrating the Lunar New Year. Today is not about the who, but the what. Not just who did it, but what and the why.

As we look at our country today and as we are here today to talk about migrants, I think that all of us recognize that what all of us want is a place to call home, number two, an opportunity to work, and number three, a place to be able to pray to the god that we know. I think that represented today are faith leaders from across our city. We want to take a moment of silence, and then we’ll have a word of prayer. Could we have a moment of silence, please?

Now we’ll have a word of prayer by Grace Choi, who is representing the Coalition of AAPI Churches.

Grace Choi: Thank you, Pastor Monrose. Please join me in prayer. Father, we thank you for bringing us together in prayer today. Our hearts and bodies ache and lament the deaths of 10 brothers and sisters who died on Lunar New Year’s Eve. We pray for your supernatural peace and comforting arms over the community of Monterey Park, California, the mass shooting victims, and the Asian American and Pacific Islander community across the country and here in New York City. Help us to overcome evil with love.

We pray for protection over Monterey Park, your joy and blessings this new year over all families celebrating Lunar New Year today and throughout this week, and to give wisdom to the local and national elected officials and police officers. Give us your grace, your peace, and your love. In Jesus’s mighty and powerful name, I pray. Amen.

All: Amen.

Pastor Gil Monrose: Amen. Thank you so much, and represented here again is faith leaders who join in prayer and solidarity. As you look at the front dais, you can see that again. All our prayers are with them and also with us here in New York City. We are going to move into our press conference, and we’ll have Commissioner Manuel Castro, who will be leading this portion. Thank you all again.

Commissioner Mnauel Castro, Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs: Thank you so much, Pastor Monrose, and to our faith leaders who are joining us here today. Welcome, everyone. I am Manuel Castro. I’m the commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. As the commissioner of the immigrant affairs office for the City of New York, I am in awe of the tireless and historic efforts of our city employees and our community partners, many of whom are here today, to provide immediate and ongoing assistance and support to our newest New Yorkers, to more than 40,000 asylum seekers who arrived in New York City in just the last eight months. We have welcomed thousands of asylum seekers with humanity, restoring their dignity and showing them the respect they deserve. For that, I am incredibly proud of being a New Yorker.

From the moment the first buses arrived at the Port Authority Bus Terminal, our team at MOIA, and with our sister agencies and community organizations, quickly mobilized to meet the most immediate needs of asylum seekers — families, children, individuals — arriving on buses, most of whom did not know why they were brought to New York City. But our response did not stop there. We also launched a multiagency effort to address this unprecedented crisis, allocating historic funding to support asylum seekers, to manage casework at our new navigation center for asylum seekers and satellites across the five boroughs, and invested in our already historic investment in our legal immigration services for asylum seekers. We understood that the gravity of this crisis required an all-hands-on-deck response, and that’s exactly what we did.
It is important and critical that we say this today, that our state and our federal government do their share of the responsibility in addressing this human crisis. New York City cannot take this responsibility alone. We need their support and resources to ensure that we can continue to provide this service. Once again, I want to thank all the city employees, all our partners, for their dedication and hard work in supporting asylum seekers. Their efforts have been nothing short of heroic.

This time last week, I was with Mayor Eric Adams at our southern border, bearing witness to the human crisis that we are experiencing today in the United States, thousands of asylum seekers crossing the border, seeking refuge in our country. I will never forget a moment when, speaking with asylum seekers in the streets of El Paso, Mayor Eric Adams expressed to them that he will be going to Washington D.C. to fight for their opportunity at the American Dream.

At that same time, we met with city officials and agreed with them that this crisis should not be taken on solely by localities, cities like El Paso and New York City, and that our national strategy should not be to just put people on buses to New York City, and that together we will work to ensure the federal government does what’s right. As someone who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border myself with my mother, grew up in New York City undocumented, and now is serving as the commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. I cannot tell you how incredibly proud I am to be a New Yorker and to serve in the City of New York in this moment.

With that, I want to welcome some of our community partners who have been working with us to share their experiences and their testimony and why it is important to come together as New Yorkers in this moment of crisis and be with our brothers and sisters who are seeking refuge in our country and in our city. First up, I’d like to welcome the executive director of La Colmena, Yesenia Mata, to share some words.

Yesenia Mata, La Colmena: My name is Yesenia Mata, executive director of La Colmena, an immigrant and worker rights center on Staten Island. I am also 31 Bravo Military Police in the United States Army Reserve. I just completed my weekend drill and rushed here to be part of this critical gathering, so we can stand united as the city gathers to ensure that asylum seekers are supported, and that all New York City residents are supported.

Staten Island wants to thank Mayor Eric Adams, Commissioner Castro, the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, and all city agencies and staff, volunteers and community-based organizations for being on the front lines from the beginning. I am thankful to our incredible city, because New York City showed humanity when we needed it the most. La Colmena was at the Port Authority welcoming asylum seekers with food, and we are now at the navigation center providing legal orientation to hundreds of asylum seekers weekly.

On Staten Island, we are ensuring that asylum seekers know their rights as workers, including providing construction site training classes and E.S.L. classes. We are training more than a hundred asylum seekers weekly, and many of them are finding creative ways to work and contribute to the city. They are now painters, delivery workers, math tutors, construction workers, babysitters, and translators. They tell me that they are happy when they get to say in English, “I am finished. Can you pay me now?” Staten Island, Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, Manhattan, are all doing their part to support asylum seekers, all while supporting all of our New York City residents.

La Colmena is trying to keep up with its services because we won’t accept any worker to be exploited, but La Colmena still has a wait list of more than 400 asylum seekers waiting for our services, and the list keeps growing. This is why we are here today, so the state and the federal government can hear from us. Staten Island cannot do this alone. New York City cannot do this alone. Thank you.

Commissioner Castro: Thank you, Yesenia. Up next, please welcome Dr. Ramon Tallaj from SOMOS Community Care.

Dr. Ramon Tallaj, SOMOS Community Care: Good afternoon. I myself am an immigrant, like the many thousands of people, doctors who are in the community and their patients. We’ve been in the front line helping the mayor and the city. This is why today we must tell our federal government, the state government, we need to work together. We are immigrants. This is a country of immigrants. You are an immigrant at some point. This is the time now to help those people who just came. They’re no different than the other ones. We will make the country bigger and better. This is the time to tense our hands. It doesn’t matter the faith that we are. We are all here today because we understand that’s a right that every human life has, to have a time to eat, work, and then dignity. This is the United States of America. Thank you.

Commissioner Castro: Thank you, doctor. I have to say that SOMOS Community Care has been incredibly active, from the moment buses began to arrive at Port Authority to our Respite Center at Randall’s Island. SOMOS Community Care doctors have been there, ready to respond to any medical emergencies that asylum seekers have been experiencing as they arrive. Now I’d like to welcome a great friend and immigrant advocate, Jo-Ann Yoo, the Executive Director of the Asian American Federation.

Jo-Ann Yoo, Asian American Federation: Good afternoon, everybody. Thank you to Commissioner Castro — I call him Manny because we’re old friends — for inviting me. I’m really happy and privileged to be here. It’s a little difficult to start a press conference on a day like today, when yet again, my community’s impacted and the calls are coming in. As Manny said, my name is Jo-Ann Yoo, and I’m the executive director of the Asian American Federation. My organization’s work is to uplift the Asian American community. As many of you know, Asian Americans are almost 18 percent of this city’s population. Overwhelmingly, Asian New Yorkers are immigrants, with two out of three of us being foreign born. When we discuss immigration and immigrants, that’s our community.

I am also here as an immigrant, who stepped off the plane over 50 years ago. When I watch the news and see the little ones and their eyes filled with anxiety, it’s really hard for me not to recall my own anxiety and uncertainty as a kid. It’s really heartbreaking. I talk to my friends who are leading nonprofits, who are working with these, the children of the asylum seekers, and I can’t tell you the stories that I’m hearing. I hope you take the time to listen to some of these stories, because this is an a crisis of epic proportion. I’m sorry.

As the federation executive director, a New Yorker and immigrant bearing witness to this tragedy, I’m going to stand with City Hall, with our leaders, City Council, with my friends, to ask for the support that we need. I am beyond proud of my city and how we have responded, and I am certainly even more angry at the governors who continue to play with vulnerable lives from the southern borders. This is not funny and this is disgusting, and it is cruelty at its best. We are starting the long climb out of Covid when so many New Yorkers are jobless, homeless and vulnerable, and our social service services organizations are supporting our neighbors with the little funds that they have.

Our city’s resources are already straining because of Covid, and we need the federal government to step up and give our city the resources that we need to help the migrants and the asylum seekers as they make their way here. We need our president, our congressional leaders, to hurry and release the funds for our city to meet this crisis with adequate resources. New York City has been, is now, and will always be a welcoming place for newcomers. Now as we face this unprecedented crisis, we need our federal leaders to do their share by giving us the resources we need to ensure that our city remains a welcoming place for all New Yorkers. I know in my community, our resources are straining because we are dealing with the pandemic of Covid and with Asian hate. And now, as we’re seeing this crisis unfold, our hearts go out to all of our brothers and sisters working in the front lines and we will certainly do our share. New Yorkers, please look out for each other because we are the ones who keep ourselves safe. Thank you.

Commissioner Castro: Thank you so much, Jo-Ann, and thank you for being here with us today. I know it’s an incredibly difficult day for our Chinese and Asian communities, and so this means a tremendous amount to us. And up next, please welcome Umair Ahmed from the Janazah Community Center.

Umair Ahmed, Janazah Community Center: As-salamu alaykum, may the peace of God and the blessings of God be upon us all. After 9/11, along with all of America, we as a Muslim community have suffered a lot by being targeted and discriminated against. But thanks to God, we have come a long way. And as we continue to unite and build our communities, and to overcome the obstacles that we have faced, we are highly thankful to the mayor’s office and to the state government for all that they have done with us and for us. And we are thankful for the representation that we are having now, which we have not received before.

I, as a representative for Muslim Community Services, Muslim Community Center, Muslims Giving Back, and Genesee Community Services will show you that we are exhausting all of our avenues and our efforts as we continue to build facilities, centers and programs that will benefit the migrants and, overall, the Muslim community.

What we are humbly requesting now is the support of the federal government to help and assist us on that level. We are doing what we can. We are exhausting our efforts, but we need the federal government’s support. We’re all here and come here, leaving our lands and our homes in search of a better life, a better quality of life, and a better future for us and our coming generations. We’re here to build and live the American dream and for that we need all the support that we can get. God bless us all, God bless New York City and God bless America. Thank you.

Commissioner Castro: Thank you, Umair. And now I’d like to welcome up Reverend Terry Troia of Project Hospitality.

Reverend Terry Troia, Project Hospitality: I thought I just came to hold the jackets. Good afternoon. My name is Terry Troia and I stand here as a Staten Islander who comes from an immigrant family, with an asylee family who joins us today, who is part of our church. As someone who works as a volunteer at El Centro del Inmigrante and the Staten Island Immigrants Council, both of whom are with us today with a large contingent from Staten Island, we are grateful that God has given us the opportunity to do righteous work, just work, and work of love that comes right out of the Jewish scriptures with the commandment to care for the widow, the orphan, and the foreigner among us.

We are so grateful that God has placed that command in our hearts and allowed us to live it out, not only as a church, as a body of immigrant workers and leaders, but as an entire city. And we invite the federal government and the state government and all peoples of goodwill to join us on this journey of love and welcome. As we expected to be loved and welcomed when we came here and our forefathers and mothers came here, so too, do we extend that love to others. We pray, we hope, we plead, and we demand that all of our government levels join us in the gift of this righteous work of welcoming the newcomers among us. Amen.
More at TV503.com

January 2023

#RyanHendrickson #TipOfTheSpear #StandWithUkraine #GenePanasenko .Palestine Adams amendment Asylum Benny Johnson Biden Black business China Congress Constitution controll Cotton Court Crime CRIMINAL cultural gun Hamas Israel Joe JUSTICE Marxism Massacre news New York NYC Obama Palestine Pogrom President Putin Racketeering Trade Show trump Tucker Ukraine UN US usa War War in Ukraine Washington White House