Last Migrants Encamped Outside Watson Hotel Leave, Most to City Housing

By Matis Glenn

Migrants camp with their belongings on the sidewalk in front of the Watson Hotel in New York, Monday, Jan. 30, 2023. . (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Migrants formerly housed in a Manhattan hotel who refused to leave for city funded housing, and camped outside the premises this week, were removed from the area, but no arrests were made, according to CBS.

Since Sunday, single male migrants from Latin America who were made to leave the Watson hotel in Manhattan have been living on the street with their belongings outside the hotel.

The city opened up makeshift housing for them in the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, complete with amenities and free meals, in order to free up space for families with children to stay in the hotel.

But dozens of migrants refused, saying that they would not have their needs met there.

The last holdouts were offered buses Thursday to go to housing facilities, which most of them boarded. Some left to other cities to connect with friends and family, and a handful went alone, but they were not permitted to stay outside the Watson.

“They’ve been given two options,” Luna Gray, of Mutual Aid told CBS. “Two buses are going to Red Hook, Brooklyn. One bus is going to 30th Street men’s shelter.”

Adams says this was done to save the migrants from the dangers of remaining outdoors overnight in the cold, and that no arrests were made.

“Tonight, a joint effort by multiple city agencies began to clean up the block and encourage the few dozen asylum seekers to come inside as temperatures continued to drop,” a spokesperson for the mayor said in a statement. “Immediately, most of the asylum seekers decided to board our busses and go to the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal…”

The Adams administration has repeatedly said that “outside agitators” are pressuring the migrants to remain outdoors, endangering their lives.

“To be clear, no arrests were made tonight, and the only items discarded were those on the street,” the spokesperson continued.

The Mayor explained that the door of the cruise terminal is still open for those who initially refused to get on the buses.

Some migrants were not bothered by the need to move. “A single man can go anywhere, sleep anywhere, eat whatever, but with a kids, it’s a different matter,” Oscar Marin, of Colombia, told CBS in Spanish.

One migrant who currently lives at the cruise terminal, Alejandro Landaeta, says that the conditions are good, and had strong words for those refusing to cooperate. “They are being lazy. We came here to work, not to be maintained by anyone,” he told CBS.

The city for its part has been posting videos and pictures to the internet of the facility from the inside, and has spoken of the nearly 100 bathroom facilities, heating, hot showers and three daily meals.  

Some City Councilmembers who visited the housing arrangements in Brooklyn were not pleased with what they saw. “I am primarily concerned about the lack of privacy, and I know that our city can do better to ensure that these folks are housed here with dignity,” City Councilman Shahana Hanif told CBS.

Councilman Lincoln Restler went further, telling CBS, “The city of New York is trying to discourage people from staying in their care and that’s why they have set up this kind of congregate facility in the way that they have.”

Adams has continued to ask for federal funding to deal with the migrants, and a full billion dollars in aid for them was proposed in Gov. Kathy Hochul’s executive state budget on Wednesday.

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