RANDALL’S ISLAND, Manhattan (PIX11) — Starting Wednesday, single men seeking asylum in New York City will be sent to an encampment on Randall’s Island, greeted to the Big Apple with an actual apple at the gate.
The facility is meant to help transition migrants to find the place they will call home. It is 84,000 square feet and can house up to 1,000 asylum seekers but will be capped at 500 men for the time being. The walls can withstand 90 mph winds, and it’s heated to 70 degrees with snow melting when it hits the roof.
Zachary Iscol, the emergency management commissioner, said the parking lot is a 3-feet grade from top to bottom. Rainwater runs under the facility, and so far, they have not had an issue.
The camp is only for single men. Migrant families will be sent to the Row hotel three blocks away from the Port Authority.
As the buses come in, men will be assessed for medical needs and tested for COVID-19. They will then given a place to destress after their journey in a recreational room set up with televisions, Xboxes, board games and phones to call family.
Next, they have access to the essentials of laundry, a hot shower and warm meal.
The two dormitories have 449 beds each and will sleep 500 men, using every other bed.
City officials say they scouted more than 90 locations, and this was the best option. The building costing the city $325,000 up to this point is surrounded by water with not many skyscrapers in view.
Even though it doesn’t feel like New York City, the criticism is that it is more like a prison with a 10 p.m. curfew. But city officials are working around that, hoping to provide transportation into Manhattan with MTA buses once and hour.
City officials have asked the federal government for reimbursement and to expedite work vouchers for migrants looking for employment.
While they have seen buses slow down, nearly 20,000 migrants have come to New York in recent months, including 5,000 children.