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Black migrants in New York are experiencing deprivation and inequality, a new study says

Black migrants in New York City are more likely than their Latino counterparts to receive an eviction notice from city housing and be left without food or warm clothing, according to a report released Thursday by three immigrant rights and community-based organizations.

Black migrants also faced significant barriers to employment: 85% said they lacked job training, compared to 52% for Latino migrants. According to the results, only 7% of black migrants reported applying for government work permits, compared to 32% of other migrants.

The report, “Leaving Behind the Latest New Yorkers,” was co-authored by Make the Road New York, Hester St. and Afrikana and is based on a February survey of 586 migrants. It highlighted a variety of inequities that advocates say require attention from policymakers. This comes at a time when city council members and advocates are bringing new attention to the experiences of black migrants, who have made up a growing share of migrants coming to the city in recent months as more European countries narrow their gates to accepting migrants .

“We think it could be a moment of opportunity,” said Natalia Aristizabal, deputy director of the immigrant rights group Make the Road New York. “Unfortunately, the narrative surrounding this population is not good, so we want to be able to humanize people’s stories and the experiences they have during this time.”

Kayla Mamelak, a spokeswoman for Mayor Eric Adams, said in a statement that New York continues to be a leader in “addressing this national humanitarian crisis.”

She said more than 65% of the more than 194,200 migrants “who have passed through our care since spring 2022” have moved out of the city's sprawling shelter system and taken the “next steps in their journey.”

She added: “While we are proud of the incredible compassion and care we have been able to show migrants, largely on our own, we want to be clear: a national crisis requires a national solution.”

According to the report, Venezuela remains the largest country of origin, accounting for 41% of migrants participating in the survey, a decrease of 23% compared to 2023. In Guinea and Ecuador, 18% of respondents are each represented, which represents a significant increase compared to the previous year.

The report found that black migrants, particularly from West African countries, have particularly struggled in many ways since arriving here. Migrants themselves have long noted that they face language barriers and lack of access to interpreters who speak their language.

While 66% of Latino single adults received a 30- or 60-day notice to leave or reapply for city housing, the number rose to 93% for Black single adults. Only one in 20 respondents said they found stable housing after leaving shelter.

Additionally, 64% of Latino migrants reported receiving three full meals a day, compared to 45% of Black migrants who said the same. And 50% of Latino migrants reported having access to warm clothing, compared to just 27% of Black migrants.

“The mayor has continued to cut critical services for newcomers and created additional barriers that have made it even more difficult for many to settle in New York City, which has been a sanctuary city for over three decades,” the report said. “This study documents the devastating impact of such political decisions.”

David Giffen of the advocacy group Coalition for the Homeless responded to the findings: “It's a shameful response to a humanitarian crisis. “I mean, where are people going to go, for heaven's sake?”

Mamelak said in her statement: “Instead of criticizing the herculean response of the city, which has done more for migrants than any other city in the country, we would ask our partners at Make the Road to join us in calling on the federal government to take meaningful action. “financial support to develop a national migrant resettlement strategy and to complete the work begun by enabling the hundreds of thousands of those they have let into this country to work immediately.”

Survey respondents were reached at a number of shelters across the city: The Row Hotel, Roosevelt Hotel, Floyd Bennett Field, Randalls Island Shelters and other facilities.

According to the report, 68% of respondents were under 35 and 75% were Latino, while 21% were Black. 54 percent of respondents traveled to New York with children under 21; However, for black migrants this figure was only 12%, as three quarters of them were adults traveling alone.

While 69% of respondents had an upcoming court date, only 6% said they had an attorney representing them in immigration court. For 70% of respondents, high costs were the biggest barrier to legal representation, while 39% said they didn't know where to find a lawyer.

Aristizabal said the findings are evidence that the city needs to invest in lawyers because migrants without legal representation may face serious consequences.

“If they take longer than a year, they can no longer apply for asylum,” she said, adding that the city also needs to provide more opportunities for English classes so that migrants are better prepared for potential job opportunities.

Anna Harden

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