TRAVIS, Staten Island (PIX11) — As New York City continues to grapple with the migrant crisis, one Staten Island community is seeing an influx of asylum-seekers.
Azael Gonzalez, his wife, Breylis Fermin, and their son, Omar, 5, left Venezuela and entered the U.S. by crossing the Texas border. He said the economic situation in Venezuela is very bad and he barely made enough money to feed his family.
Leaving seemed like their only chance at a future, Gonzalez said. With no money, the family boarded a bus to New York and were dropped off at the Staten Island Inn last week along with dozens of other migrant families.
Mayor Eric Adams declared a state of emergency as border states continue to bus migrants across the country. In recent weeks, migrants have flooded city shelters and human services systems. Immigrant advocates and organizations are also pledging to help families.
“We are trying as much as possible. We are also collecting donations,” said Michelle Molina, Director of the Staten Island Immigrant Center.
Travis, where the hotel is located, is now at the heart of the migrant crisis. The neighborhood is not easily accessible by public transportation and there are few businesses there, making it hard for migrants to get around, find employment, or access other resources.
Fermin said a few people dropped off clothing donations, which is helpful since her family arrived with only the shirts on their backs.
“I ran and bought some jackets,” said Staten Island resident Agnes, who declined to give her last name. “Why did you want to help out? Because it’s terrible to have kids like this. There’s really not much around here and it’s getting cold.”
The migrants said the city provides prepared meals to the hotel so they can heat them up in the microwave, but a local pizza shop owner said some families have stopped by asking for help and he has provided a few meals. He said area residents were not warned the migrants were coming.
“The Travis community is very Republican … nobody is very supportive of the border situation,” said Sebastian Bongiovani, who owns Verde’s Pizza on Victory Boulevard. “It should be under control. But these people care about human beings and they care about their own children and businesses.”