In a move prompted by high winds and potential stormy weather, city officials in New York City have begun evacuating approximately 2,000 illegal immigrants from a tent shelter located on an airfield. These individuals are being transported from Brooklyn’s Floyd Bennett Field to James Madison High School as a proactive measure to ensure their safety during the looming storm, as reported by the New York Post. Consequently, students at the high school were dismissed early on Tuesday, with classes set to be conducted remotely the following day.
According to NYC Republican Councilwoman Inna Vernikov, the announcement of the relocation was made in the early hours of Tuesday morning, leaving teachers and staff with limited time to prepare. “They told us we had to get everything out by 5 [p.m.],” expressed Robyn Levy, a gym teacher at James Madison High School. The suddenness of the decision has raised concerns among the school community, with Levy questioning the reasoning behind choosing a school facility that disrupts students’ learning environment.
Responding to such concerns, City Hall spokeswoman Kayla Mamelak stated that the relocation serves as a precautionary measure until weather conditions stabilize and the facility can be deemed fit for living. Mamelak emphasized that the move is intended to prioritize the safety and well-being of those residing in the shelter. The decision to house illegal immigrants in tents at the airfield was initiated in November after Governor Kathy Hochul reached an agreement with the Biden administration to provide temporary accommodation for the influx of undocumented individuals in New York.
The relocation of the migrants to James Madison High School has drawn criticism from NYC Councilwoman Vernikov, who asserted that public schools were never meant to serve as emergency housing or shelters. She further highlighted the impact on the 4,000 students attending the school and the concerns voiced by parents and nearby residents. Vernikov expressed her belief that the situation would not only disrupt the overall school environment but also place a significant burden on families, students, administrators, and staff.
This development adds to the challenges faced by New York City schools due to the ongoing illegal immigration crisis. At the beginning of the school year, approximately 21,000 unauthorized immigrant children flooded the city’s schools, forcing one institution to relocate students to a different facility due to overcrowding. In response to the strain caused by illegal immigration, Mayor Eric Adams made budget cuts of over $1 billion toward the city’s education sector over the next two years.