Venezuelan Asylum Seeker Reflects on Kindness Amid New York City’s Migrant Crisis

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His radiant smile seems to rival the luminosity of the New York City lights, Jean Carlos Marin-Espinoza stands on a bustling Manhattan street corner reflecting on the tremendous kindness he and his family have received since their arrival. Hotels have provided shelter, meals have been given, and they’ve found clothes to wear.

Fleeing from the clutches of poverty, violence and rampant crime under the iron rule of Venezuela’s incumbent, President Nicolas Maduro, his relief to have found safety and a sense of freedom here is palpable. Yet, that jovial grin quickly slips away to reveal a tougher reality. “You have to smile so you don’t cry,” he relates. “Because if you (cry), then you get desperate.”

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Marin-Espinoza is among numerous asylum seekers who have landed in the city over the summer, their presence stretching local provisions to the limit and serving as a clear human testament to the humanitarian crisis unfolding hundreds of miles away at the southern border. The city, guided by a local mandate, must offer shelter to all, no matter if they were brought up from Texas or arrived under their own efforts.

That mandate led Marin-Espinoza and his family to a room at the Roosevelt Hotel. Through city aid, the family has managed to eat and replenish their lost belongings. Their current king-sized bed, TV, and air-conditioning are a stark contrast to the month of physical hardship they experienced on their way to the United States. “Here, with the food that they’ve given me, I’ve fattened up a bit,” the still lean Marin-Espinoza shares. “Before, I was very skinny.”

Despite the cascade of assistance and empathy, Mayor Eric Adams warns that the massive costs of this migrant crisis may potentially “destroy” New York if state and federal aid does not increase. Marin-Espinoza sighs, evading the broader political discourse while focusing on his pressing needs; He is homeless, his young child is ill, and he anxiously seeks employment to sustain his family.

The once prestigious Roosevelt Hotel has transmuted into a haven for refugees. The grandeur now only a mere reminder of its former reputation, situated in the heart of New York – sandwiched between the gleaming Rockefeller Center and the Chrysler Building, a stone’s throw away from Grand Central Station.

No longer receiving guests since 2020, the city has commandeered its premises to accommodate the influx of migrants. With every room full and the main entry overflowing with up to 500 people daily seeking assistance, Dr. Ted Long of New York City Health + Hospitals, has dubbed the Roosevelt “the new Ellis Island.”

Providing basic human comforts such as food, water, toilet facilities, and supplies for children, these new arrivals are extended hospitality alongside their asylum claims being processed. Equally important, according to Deputy Mayor for Communications Fabien Levy, is upholding their human dignity, particularly for those who have been sent to New York by other states.

A resounding energy echoes within the Roosevelt, a cacophony of children crying and playing while the weary adults contemplate their next moves. Exhaustion visibly marks their faces, a testament to the great distances they’ve covered but the long journey that lies ahead before they can call this city home.

Leidi Caeza, a young mother escaping threats and discrimination from her baby’s father in Ecuador, is grateful for the medical care and sense of safety the city has provided. She can now breathe a sigh of relief as she finds a room for her and her baby Mia at the Roosevelt.

Despite the immense burden on New York’s resources, course voices are raised emphasizing the invaluable contributions these new arrivals will have on the state and city’s future. Murad Awawdeh, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition insists, “We have a huge workforce need here. We need the population. We need to see this as an opportunity, our golden ticket to help us power through into the future.”

As a melting pot of newcomers, the Roosevelt hosts people from all over the globe. From Central America to West Africa, each arrival is a testament to human resilience and the universal search for safety and hope. Such stories make the city’s efforts worthwhile, although daunting.

As they settle into their new lives, many of these newcomers will undoubtedly turn to entertainment and leisure, a vital part of any thriving city’s cultural fabric. For some, this may include exploring the world of gaming and casinos. In the city that never sleeps, online casinos have found a thriving marketplace. To find out more about online casinos and gaming in Canada, we recommend visiting our page on the topic. We at West Island Blog have compiled a list of the top online casinos this month for our readers’ convenience.

Finally, for Marin-Espinoza, the prospect of cooking their food is edging closer. Offered a new dwelling and with the recent legislation allowing Venezuelans who arrived before July 31 to obtain work permits, he stands one step closer to self-sufficiency. His journey through this sprawling city has only just begun.