Parents outraged as NYC students forced to study remotely while their school shelters 2,000 migrants
01/11/2024 // Cassie B. // Views

Students at a high school in Brooklyn have been forced out of their classrooms to accommodate a group of 2,000 migrants who need shelter in the face of an approaching storm.

The migrants have been housed in a controversial tent shelter that was set up at Floyd Bennett Field. New York City is concerned that a major storm that is headed for the area could cause the tent to collapse with its gusting winds and torrential downpours. According to forecasts, heavy rains with gusts of wind of up to 70 miles per hour are expected.

The solution authorities came up with is to house them in a gym and auditorium at the nearby James Madison High School, but doing so required displacing students who go to school there. The school’s 2,000 students will be forced to take their classes virtually in order to make way for the illegal immigrants. They were dismissed early on Tuesday and will have to work remotely.

It is not yet known how long students will have to go without their school. City Hall spokeswoman Kayla Mamelak said: “The families are already in the process of being temporarily relocated and will continue to be provided with essential services and support. The relocation will continue until any weather conditions that may arise have stabilized and the facility is once again fit for living.”

New York City Councilwoman Inna Vernikov expressed her outrage over the move in a press release, particularly in light of the fact that many experts said the field was not an appropriate location for a migrant shelter in the first place.

She noted: "This is both unacceptable and was entirely foreseeable, as Floyd Bennett Field is vulnerable to all forms of inclement weather conditions and is not a sustainable housing facility.”

She also defended students’ rights to attend classes at their school, adding: "Public schools are meant to be places of learning and growth for our children, and were never intended to be shelters or facilities for emergency housing."

Parents, teachers and neighbors outraged

One mom expressed her anger at the migrants when their buses arrived at the shelter, shouting: “How does it feel that you kicked all the kids out of school tomorrow? Does it feel good? I hope you feel good. I hope you will sleep very well tonight!”

A gym teacher at the school, Robyn Levy, told the New York Post they were informed by email at 6:00 am that they needed to get everything out by 5:00 pm. She said she is not sure when they will be able to return to the school.

“What I want to know is why here?” she asked. “Why not send them somewhere where students wouldn’t be disrupted, where students' learning wouldn’t be disrupted?”

Some residents fear the incident is serving as a test ahead of using the school for longer-term migrant housing. A local resident named Rob told the New York Post: “It’s a litmus test. They are using a storm, a legitimate situation, where they are testing this out. I guarantee you they’ll be here for the entire summer."

“There’s 1,900 people getting thrown into my neighborhood, half a block from where I live and we don’t know who they are. They’re not vetted. A lot of them have criminal records and backgrounds and we don’t even know,” he added.

More than 160,000 migrants have made their way to New York City from the U.S. border since spring 2022, and almost 70,000 remain in the city’s care. Migrant tents have been erected at several sites to accommodate the influx.

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