NY agency decries dispersal of asylum seekers - Catholic Courier
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is seen near the Rio Grande. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is seen near the Rio Grande in Eagle Pass, Texas, on May 23, 2022. (CNS photo by Marco Bello/Reuters)

NY agency decries dispersal of asylum seekers

WASHINGTON — New York’s Catholic Charities has spoken out against what it called a “chaotic approach” to dealing with asylum-seekers being bused by Texas officials to cities around the nation.

“The current chaotic approach is not in the best interest of those seeking protection from violence and other crises in their own countries, nor the good of our own country,” said a July 22 statement from Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York.

Cities such as New York and Washington have received an influx of migrants being bused from the southern border to Northeast cities in what some say is a stunt by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican with presidential aspirations.

Abbott, however, calls it a “mission” to prove to federal officials in Washington “how difficult the task is” to take in migrants at the local level.

NYC sees spike in demand on shelter system

On July 19, New York City Mayor Eric Adams called for federal help, saying “New York has experienced a sharp increase in asylum-seekers from Latin America and other regions,” which had resulted in the city receiving 2,800 additional people into its shelter system “over the last few weeks.”

In his statement, Msgr. Sullivan said he was “deeply concerned about the current state of policies that have resulted in thousands of asylum-seekers being bused throughout the United States without proper planning.”

Catholic Charities in New York was doing everything possible to help those in their midst, he said, but the agency needs federal help. 

“Over the past weeks, asylum-seekers have arrived often hungry, tired and in need of basic items. In New York, Catholic Charities has responded to this crisis promptly, professionally and compassionately,” he said.

“Those who have come to our offices and parishes have been provided with emergency assistance, food, basic clothing items, toiletries, as well as critical information on shelter and medical resources,” the priest said. “Many have appointments with immigration officials in the upcoming months and our legal services staff is beginning to review their situations.”

Capital also inundated by transported asylum seekers

The nation’s capital has seen a similar influx, and Catholic Charities at the Archdiocese of Washington has responded.

But in a July 15 letter, Msgr. John J. Enzler, the agency’s president and CEO, said that while it had helped those who arrived in the nation’s capital from April until early June, “our ongoing response was not sustainable from a staffing and resource perspective, given our many other programs and services.”

“We strongly encouraged local and federal government to step up,” he said.

The Center Square online publication said Abbott has spent $2.9 million from the state’s coffers to bus the migrants.

In a news release from Gov. Abbott’s office, Lt. Chris Olivarez, spokesperson for the Texas Department of Public Safety’s South Texas Region, said other localities are now “experiencing only a fraction of what these smaller border communities face every single day, when you have anywhere from 2,000 to 3,000 migrants crossing the border daily in those areas.”

Agency and city willing to work with federal government, others

Catholic Charities in New York said it was “prepared to work in partnership with the government, and others to advance appropriate policies and programs” to help the vulnerable.

Adams also said New York was willing to help, especially because it has a legacy of welcome, but it needs federal resources to do so.

He also said that while in some cases it appeared the migrants were being bused in by “Texas and Arizona governments. … In other cases, it appears that individuals are being sent by the federal government.”

Tags: Refugees
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