Home Latest News Migrants defy Mayor Eric Adams’ calls for them to stay away from New York: ‘We are good people’

Migrants defy Mayor Eric Adams’ calls for them to stay away from New York: ‘We are good people’

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Migrants defy Mayor Eric Adams’ calls for them to stay away from New York: ‘We are good people’

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Migrants say they are still determined to make their way to New York City despite strong rhetoric from Mayor Eric Adams, who recently finished a four-day tour of Latin America.

Adams had embarked on a trip to Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador and the Darién Gap, a dangerous jungle terrain between Panama and Columbia, where a large influx of migrants traveled through last month on their way to the U.S.-Mexico border.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Adams said that while the official position of the city is that the border should “remain open,” they have made it clear there should be a “decompression strategy” so the Big Apple does not have to “carry the burden” of the national government.

“There is no more room in New York,” he said. “Our hearts are endless, but our resources are not. We don’t want to put people in congregate shelters. We don’t want people to think they will be employed.”

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Eric Adams Mexico

Eric Adams visited Puebla, Mexico on his 4-day trip to Latin America. (Reuters/Imelda Medina)

Despite this warning, more than a dozen migrants bound for the U.S. told The New York Times that Adams’ comments would not deter them from reaching the city.

“I think he, as mayor, is defending his country,” Johanna del Valle Acosta, a mother of three traveling from Venezuela, said.

“Suddenly, other countries see us as a threat, but we are good people who want to work.”

On Friday in Quito, Carlos Gabriel Hernández revealed that he and his wife and two children had previously attempted to cross the Darién Gap. While the initial trip proved too treacherous, he said his family still has plans to reach New York.

Hernández said that he was offended to learn why Adams had decided to visit and claimed his arrival in the region would not change the minds of everyone coming through the border.

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Eric Adams Mexico

Eric Adams poses for selfies with local businessmen and dignitaries during an event at the former Municipal Palace in Puebla, Mexico, on Thursday. (AP/Fernanda Pesce)

“How can you tell someone not to follow their American dream?” he asked.

The State Department has recently sent several delegations to the Darién region to discourage migration. However, these calls have often led to more migrants embarking on the trek. Adams acknowledged the limits of his efforts, noting that his calls will not change the minds of all those wishing to come through.

“There isn’t one magic pill that’s going to solve this crisis, and we need to be clear on that. But If we sit back and wait for the one magic pill, then we are going to watch this issue erode,” he said.

During the mayor’s trip to Mexico City, the Times spoke with 33-year-old Jhonatan Antony Velásquez Diaz, who traveled 33 days from Venezuela with his wife and 6-month-old daughter. During the journey, they were robbed at gunpoint. But the family continued after many friends told them they had received jobs in New York.

Adams said around 800,000 immigrants from the state of Puebla live in New York City, which has had to absorb over 120,000 more asylum seekers in the last year.

“That lifts me up and helps me to keep going,” Diaz said. “No matter what, people are going to get there, and I’m not going to be discouraged by what a politician says or a mayor says.”

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Migrants in NYC

Asylum seekers line up in front of the historic Roosevelt Hotel, converted into a city-run shelter for newly arrived migrant families in New York City, United States on September 27, 2023.  (Selcuk Acar/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Not everyone was as optimistic about their prospects once reaching the city. One man, Henry Aguilar, had been traveling through the jungle with his wife, three kids and a dog when he received a voice message from a friend.

“I’ve been here for a little more than a week, and I haven’t been able to find work,” the friend could be heard saying. “It’s not as easy as they paint it.”

The family is now planning on heading to Texas after receiving the news.

Other families who crossed into the U.S. have not been as fortunate as some migrants working in New York.

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One Quito man, Raúl Alfredo Chic, chose to head to the U.S. after COVID-19 decimated his wood shop business. After traveling by foot, bus and boat, he was arrested and detained for two months in Texas. Back home, his equipment was stolen and extortionists attempted to shake down his wife.

Chica said that while Adams may be able to persuade some people to hold off on the journey, his family remains steadfast in their decision.

“Even after all that I went through, my wife now wants to go,” he said.

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