Sunset Park migrant respite center sparks debate between volunteers and concerned neighbors

While organizations want to help asylum seekers, community members point out the resources are being strained.

News 12 Staff

Aug 6, 2023, 10:49 PM

Updated 343 days ago

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The new respite center set up for migrants at the Sunset Park Recreation Center has sparked debate between volunteers and concerned neighbors.
The tent was set up on Friday by Masbia, a local network of soup kitchens, to provide asylum seekers with bags full of toiletries, clothes and other items.
"We want to be a welcoming place for immigrants," said Alexander Rapaport, the executive director of Masbia.
Asylum seekers arrived at the center, which is a location the city chose to house migrants as the shelter system continues to get strained.
"On the other side of the building, you can see the State of Liberty in the New York Harbor. We just want to follow in what that statue stands for," Rappaport added.
While Rapaport and the volunteers from collaborating organizations were stationed outside the rec center over the weekend, neighbors who live nearby have questions and held a rally.
"The main concern is they need to know why they're here, how long they're going to be here," said rally organizer Ying Tan. She also pointed out those who rallied are not against migrants coming into the U.S., but that resources are being constrained.
"We have to find solutions is what I'm trying to say. We have to help them, and we have to help the community, so we have to make it balanced," Tan added.
In the middle of it all were asylum seekers, like Jesus David Cordero, who arrived from Colombia.
"I hope I can get my legal documents here, even join the U.S. military, and get opportunities because this is the land of opportunities," Cordero told News 12 in Spanish.
There are roughly 60 asylum seekers residing at the rec center, according to Tweet on Saturday by Council Member Alexa Aviles.


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