Williamsburg parents, students rally as NYC school gyms to house migrants

Residents are speaking out against New York City's use of school gymnasiums to house migrants, but officials said they are out of options and room to house asylum seekers in the city's shelter system.

Parents and students in Williamsburg rallied Tuesday morning in front of P.S. 17 to protest the school's gym being turned into a temporary shelter for migrants. 

"I don’t mind giving a helping hand," Linda Perez, a former Special Education teacher, said. "But when it interferes with the education of our students, yes I do care. Every 72 hours, a new bus is going to arrive here and this is going to be surrounded by migrants."

According to parents, they were given no advance notice of how many migrants were coming and who they are. 

RELATED: NYC public school gyms to house migrants

Not only that, but the school's recently renovated gym is now off-limits again, and the kids will effectively be under a lockdown during recess. 

Local 237, the union that represents school safety agents, sent a cease and desist letter to the Office of Labor Relations. In the letter, the union said safety agents "are not trained in security issues attendant to short-term emergency migrant shelters."

Now, parents are aiming their anger at Mayor Eric Adams

"The mayor really needs to look into the law, and what’s permissible and not use schools, a place of education," Perez said.

The schools are just a few of 150 temporary shelters in the city, not counting the six locations recently designated temporary migrant shelters by the city, which includes the Roosevelt Hotel in Midtown, a hotel in Yonkers, two hotels in Rockland County and two schools in Staten Island. 

"It doesn’t have to be in the public schools," said Tonya Trossi, an M.S. 577 parent. "They can put them somewhere else."

More than 4,000 migrants arrived last week in the city.


NYC hotels converted to shelters amid pressure to accommodate asylum seekers

Around Manhattan and elsewhere in New York City, hotels that served tourists just a few years ago have become de facto emergency shelters.

Parents at P.S. 17 said they are primarily concerned the gate to the school's gym has to be left open, so migrants can come and go freely, with the school just feet away. 

"There’s no safety," said Virginia Vu, a P.S. 17 PTA mom. "They’re giving us one safety officer. Just one. We only have two for a school of 700 kids."

The Mayor's office responded, saying, "We are out of space. As the mayor has said, nothing is off the table as we work to fill our moral mandate, but we should all expect this crisis to affect every city service."

The mayor's office said it now has opened 150 emergency sites, including eight large-scale humanitarian relief centers to serve more than 65,000 asylum-seekers, and the city will continue to receive hundreds of asylum-seekers every day.