Students in Brooklyn are protesting the possibility of asylum seekers being housed on school grounds amid an influx of migrants to New York City.
The students gathered outside of P.S. 17 in Williamsburg on Tuesday, a neighborhood within the Brooklyn borough, and chanted “We support asylum seekers but not on school grounds.” Some of the students held signs saying, “We need recess” and “No asylums on school property.”
The protest comes after the immigration policy Title 42 expired last week. Title 42, a public health law dating back to 1944, allowed authorities to stop people from entering the United States from foreign countries where there is “the existence of any communicable disease” that could spread to Americans.
Mayor Eric Adams told local news station NY1 on Tuesday that New York City is looking at 20 school gyms to house migrants. It is “one of the last places” the city wanted to consider, he said, adding that no one is comfortable with having to take these “drastic steps.”
“We have not made a final determination on all the gyms, but…we are looking at are separate from the actual school buildings. They are independent from the school buildings. They’re not in the buildings the schools are,” Adams said.
Newsweek reached out to Adams’ press office via email for comment.
The City reporter Gwynne Hogan tweeted on Tuesday that parents at the protest voiced how afraid they are, with some even pulling their kids out of school.
Meanwhile, the city of New York has also been dealing with a rise in homelessness before the surge in migrant arrivals, leaving its shelters packed. More than 60,000 migrants have arrived in New York City in the past year, with 4,200 in the last week alone, according to City Hall officials.
“On the one hand, many can understand the concerns of the students,” political analyst Craig Agranoff told Newsweek on Tuesday. “They are worried about their safety and their education. On the other hand, many also understand the need to provide housing for migrants who are fleeing violence and persecution.”
“I think there is a compromise that can be reached here. The city could find other, less disruptive locations to house the migrants. And the students could be given more information about the migrants and their situation,” Agranoff added.
“The broader implications of this issue for education are significant. If schools are forced to house migrants, it could disrupt the learning environment for students. It could also lead to increased costs for schools.”
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