The Roosevelt Hotel: A look inside NYC's modern 'Ellis Island' for migrants

It’s been dubbed by NYC as the new Ellis Island.

The Roosevelt Hotel was turned into a migrant arrival center back in May 2023, becoming the one-stop shop where newly arriving migrants could get information 24/7 about what to do and where to go next.

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Since the arrival center opened its doors around a year ago, it has welcomed more than 150,000 migrants from 160 different countries.

Dr. Ted Long, with NYC Health and Hospitals, has been spearheading the operation since its inception. He says once migrants arrive, they are quickly registered.

"We ask for your name, the size of your family, give you a wristband so that we know we have line of sight into everybody in the building now," Dr. Long said.

How operations work

After that, migrants are led to a room that is set up as a health care clinic. Every migrant is screened for any disease they may have contracted along the way, offered medical assistance, screened for depression and is able to get vaccinated. City officials say so far, they've administered more than 70,000 vaccines.

Migrants are then connected to a case manager who will help them decide next steps. If they want to connect with family or friends in a different state, the city will help them get there.

If they need a shelter bed, the city will then assign them to a shelter site and help them get started on filing their asylum papers.

"We'll place you quickly, typically in a matter of hours, to decide where you’re going to sleep that night," Dr. Long said.

One reason why room is opening up faster now is because the city has started to set limits on how long migrants can stay at shelter sites – and starting this week – have started to evict some migrants who have stayed longer than 30 days.

The city would not say how much it costs to keep the facility running every day, but Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Manuel Castro emphasized how the cost should be coming from the federal government.

"We hope that the federal government does more in support of asylum seekers," Castro said.