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Thousands of migrants have been bused to New York. But people are waiting to help them.

Migrants who crossed the border from Mexico into Texas walk through the Port Authority bus station in Manhattan after arriving by bus on August 25, 2022.
Spencer Platt
Getty Images
Migrants who crossed the border from Mexico into Texas walk through the Port Authority bus station in Manhattan after arriving by bus on August 25, 2022.

New York City is struggling to accommodate the new arrivals of migrants. Faith groups are stepping in to help.

Reverend Juan Carlos Ruiz is a pastor at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, and a community leader working to help many migrants and asylum seekers that have found themselves in New York City without a way to work, or with a long-term safety net.

In recent months, a number of states have been sending migrants that arrive in the U.S. to different parts of the country. They are sent by bus and plane, in many cases with no help or idea of what comes next, and many of those people are struggling to find their footing.

In New York City alone, there are projections the city could spend up to $1 billion this year to support these migrants and give them adequate resources for things like housing, food, education and employment.

Despite that spending, there are still gaps in the help people are receiving. That's where faith groups and individuals are stepping in to help, like Rev. Ruiz.

The need for help is only expected to go up; some estimates say that up to 50,000 migrants made their way to New York over the past year, sent from places like Texas and Florida.

NYC Mayor Eric Adams has already called the trend unsustainable.

The Biden administration is also expanding some legal pathways for migrants from a select group of countries to come to the U.S., as long as they have family or other pre-existing ties to support them.

Those who now may qualify for protected status, or a new opportunity at sponsorship, also highlight the fractures within the existing immigration system.

Rev. Ruiz told NPR: "There is a great deal of frustration to see that some people are coming in — that have a protected status, while they themselves, [who are undocumented] who are growing families here, who have been paying taxes for the last 20 years, there is nothing for them. So the tension is really being exacerbated."

The arrivals also coincide with the White House considering whether to revive the practice of detaining migrant families found crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally.

Rev. Ruiz explained what awaits people when they arrive to New York: "Unfortunately, they are coming into a housing system that has been overwhelmed. And so people are scrambling just to find some firm footing — you know, a dignified place to rest. What we see is that many people are disconnected, disoriented, misinformed. After traveling on foot for two months, three months, they need a place that they can feel secure. "

He added that the group gives out phones, metro cards, and food. "So, yes, we have the abuelitas ... the grandmothers in our communities, basically cooking for them and being family to them," he explained. "Anything that humanizes, because we have to remember this is a humanitarian crisis. "

Adams has alluded to a plan that would relocate some of these migrants to different places across the country, but has yet to reveal key information. He said in a recent press conference, "Please don't ask me which cities because I don't need you running to the cities and stopping them. I know you enjoy pitting cities against cities, so we are not giving you that information."

The City of New York plans to open a new agency to address the arrival of migrants, as well as a 24-hour welcome center.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Manuela López Restrepo
Manuela López Restrepo is a producer and writer at All Things Considered. She's been at NPR since graduating from The University of Maryland, and has worked at shows like Morning Edition and It's Been A Minute. She lives in Brooklyn with her cat Martin.