BY ALONZO MONSANTO | On Mon., July 31, our team at Families For Freedom took to the streets of Manhattan intending to spread awareness about our services. Typically, field days last for hours on end. However, on this particular field day, it only lasted for a few minutes.
On E. 45th Street and Madison Avenue, next to the Roosevelt Hotel for immigrant asylum seekers, hundreds of people were seen on the sidewalk in desperate circumstances. Our team started to hand out fliers and business cards, but contrary to usual, they ran out extremely quickly. One person after another was begging for our organization’s contact information because they needed help. Even if the immigrants did not speak English or Spanish — the only languages that our fliers were written in — they still accepted any information they could receive about services that could potentially help them. Soon, it was a crowd of people all desperately begging for our help. Quite literally, they had nothing else — seemingly no other option. Everyone we saw was just left there on the street without any help.
As bad as we felt, we could not provide them with the resources that they needed. All we planned to do was hand out our fliers and business cards; the only thing we could provide was information. But eventually, we ran out of that, too. There were so many people who we were able to give information to, but so many more that did not receive any. Even considering the large number of people who did receive our organization’s contact information, each and every one of them asked for more copies of our materials, so they could spread the word to their families.
What speaks to the desperation of these immigrants currently is the fact that some of the people who we handed business cards to arrived at our W. 31st Street office for help before we even got the chance to walk back. As soon as they received our address, they wasted no time and came instantly. Clearly, they had no other options. The fact of the matter is, nothing had been provided to them until we gave them our assistance.
As clients came into the office, we serviced them right away. However, our team at Families for Freedom is not very large, and it certainly cannot provide for all of the immigrants in need. If we saw hundreds of immigrants on just one New York City street — and even that is too much for our organization to handle at once — then there are thousands more that we did not see and cannot service at the moment. Although we are trying to answer as many pleas for help as possible, Families for Freedom is pleading for help, as well. There are so many immigrants in New York City, but not enough action is being taken to help them. We need all hands on deck to provide for the people in need. Though many people believe that there are too many migrants to help everyone, the sheer amount alone should not be a basis to neglect them to the extent that we’ve seen.
Mayor Eric Adams is one of the people who is willing to give up on saving immigrants because he is overwhelmed by the fact that there is a large amount of them seeking refuge here. However, we write this to demand he take action, specifically because he is the mayor of New York City. The Statue of Liberty — a monument that resides within his jurisdiction — is meant to be a symbol of freedom for immigrants worldwide. Eric Adams needs to uphold the principles of that monument and service the people seeking refuge here. Eric Adams thinks of immigrants as causing a citywide crisis as soon as they breach New York’s border. However, it is the immigrants who are truly in crisis, and this will continue to persist as long as they are neglected.
Families For Freedom will always advocate for immigrant rights, fight against the unjust policy changes Eric Adams is trying to make, and plead for the help of other organizations who can help us handle the immigrant crisis. We have seen firsthand how much of a crisis this truly is for the people who unfortunately have to experience it.
Monsanto is a summer intern with Families for Freedom. Families for Freedom is a New York City-based organization founded during the early 2000s that advocates for detainees across the country, offers support to immigrants, educates marginalized communities and fights against repressive immigration laws.