By: Abby Huang
Johnson Coronel, 26, emigrated from Venezuela to the United States. In order to escape all the violence in his home country, he and his brother traveled all the way to the Texas border and requested asylum.
“The situation in Venezuela has gotten impossible. You can’t walk down a street without a government official patting you down for money,” he said. “We just want to work and live in peace.”
After residing in two shelters, first in Brownsville and then San Antonio, they moved in with a relative in Boston for four days before he kicked them out. Then, they took refuge in an overcrowded shelter in New York City, where each room had twelve occupants. Therefore, when they were informed that Albany had better conditions, they agreed, hoping they would not have to relocate again.
In the past year, New York City has received tens of thousands of asylum seekers and migrants. As the number began to increase, the officials began sending people to other locations without consideration for the fact that some of the cities were not sanctuary cities.
While some places, such as Albany, Ithaca, and New York City, are sanctuary cities, other cities are less welcoming to migrants. For example, the city of Colonie is not migrant-friendly. Peter Crummey, the town supervisor of Colonie, said, “They're all sanctuary cities until they have to be sanctuary cities.” When his city was sent a bus full of immigrants, he was furious, and sued New York.
Not only was Crummey upset with the state, but also he was also enraged with the federal government. Many other people agree with this. Efren Rojas believes that the migrants are abusing the system. “I came to work, not to ask for help," he says. "They're abusing the system.”
Anthony Gerome is more worried about the economic problems that the federal government will face with the addition of the immigration program. "We can't afford it," he says. "We have too many people in the United States that are U.S. citizens, veterans of war and so on that need our help desperately."
On the other hand, many organizations support the migrants and asylum seekers. The Albany Victory Gardens are one. Linda Pasqualino said, “It's America. You're supposed to help each other out.”
No matter the efforts to evict the migrants, they are not leaving. Coronel says, “We're staying here. This is home.”