Teachers Union calls on Mayor Adams to reconsider 60-day shelter policy, citing risks to asylum-seeker children
In a fervent plea centered on child welfare, the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) is urging Mayor Eric Adams to reassess his administration's 60-day shelter policy for asylum-seeking families. Advocates are asserting that the policy is not only chaotic but also poses a considerable risk of exacerbating homelessness, particularly among vulnerable children.
"We take care of children, so if you're doing something that’s going to harm them, we’re against it," said UFT President Michael Mulgrew.
Mulgrew says the city's 60-day shelter policy fails to take into consideration the unique needs of children within these families. According to him, children arrive with hurdles they already have to overcome. "These children are coming in very untrustworthy because of what they’ve gone through to get here, so the teachers understand that, and they’re developing those relationships. They’re building that bridge."
Mulgrew says this would be further complicated if their families have to move.
"If you move them again, there’s that whole process and trauma, and the kids have to start again in another school," he added.
In October, Mayor Eric Adams confirmed the policy, stating that migrant families with children would need to leave assigned homeless shelters after 60 days and reapply. Adams stressed the city's limitations, citing the continuous arrival of migrants. "Every day, they are getting new people, and we have no more space for them," said Mayor Eric Adams said at a news conference on Oct. 24.
Mulgrew estimates that between 20,000 and 22,000 children are currently enrolled in city schools. The UFT initiated a petition, garnering over 400 signatures, calling on Mayor Adams to withdraw the policy.
Gina Cirrito, Co-Founder of Mañana Otro Día,and a parent in Manhattan expressed concerns. "They are part of the fabric of our communities, and all of that is at risk now with this 60 day policy," said Cirrito. She says she and others have welcomed migrants into their neighborhoods, even connecting them with resources. Cirrito worries about potential disruptions for children
“These children will be homeless first of all at Christmas time when it's very cold out, and hopefully they will be reassigned soon, but these shelters can be very far from the schools they attend,” said Cirrito.
News 12 reached out to the mayor's office for comment, but a spokesperson did not directly address the policy or concerns. Instead, a statement emphasized the city's challenges and urged federal intervention. "Simply put, we’re out of good options. It is crucial — now, more than ever — that the federal government finish the job they started by allowing the people they let into this country to immediately work, and to come up with a strategy that ensures migrants are not convening on one, or even just a handful of cities across the country," said the Spokesperson.
Despite the challenges, UFT President Mulgrew and other advocates stress the importance of maintaining focus on the well-being of the children already here.
"I know the mayor does not want to cause harm to children, but he has to be able to say that when it comes to children, we’re going to help them. But you can’t have this threat over them that every 60 days they’re going to get tossed out into the street," said Mulgrew.