Migrants in Seattle are camping out in hopes to find solutions to their shelter issue. They are asking for permission to occupy a county-owned motel. AFP

Since December, the influx of migrants into the U.S. from the southern border has dramatically decreased. But as some undocumented migrants waiting asylum already in the country make their way to different cities across the U.S., hundreds of newcomers in Seattle search for shelters as they wonder where the process will take them.

Some Democratic-led northern cities have seen huge influxes of migrants. In Chicago, for instance, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has sent more than 40,000 asylum-seekers, ABC News reports.

In Seattle, while the incoming group has been lower, the city continues to struggle on where to house its nearly 10,000 new migrants, given that homelessness is already an immense issue in the city. The solution so far? Hundreds of migrants sleeping outside Seattle every night.

As the current migrant crisis was first booming, the city helped hundreds of migrants move from tents and churches to hotels or other short-term rentals as extreme cold hit over the winter. But when money ran out, they faced rolling evictions.

Now, clusters of tents have covered fields across different parts of the city. For instance, in Kent, a Seattle suburb, groups of tents have been placed in the neighborhood since last weekend, according to ABC News.

Similarly, along a highway in the south of Seattle, around 240 asylum-seekers set camp, wondering if police would follow through on threats to arrest them for trespassing and hoping officials instead might let them move into the vacant motel next door.

"It's very difficult," Kabongo Kambila Ringo, a 29-year-old migrant camping out near the motel told the Associated Press. "There's not enough to eat. There's not even a way to wash ourselves."

Seeing the popularity of the camp site, the local police department last weekend posted a 48-hour eviction notice, saying the migrants did not have permission to be at the county-controlled property. But when the deadline passed, authorities backtracked to give migrants space to look for long-term accommodation.

Migrants in Kent, like Ringo, are pressuring the city to move them into a vacant motel close to the field, called Econo Lodge, an establishment purchased by the county during the COVID-19 pandemic as emergency quarantine housing.

But under a legal agreement between the county and the city, the motel can only be used for quarantine housing and other city-approved uses. Officials say they have no immediate plans to open it for the migrants, the Associated Press reports.

"We understand the rationale for the request by asylum seekers to use the hotel in the short term, but the reality of doing so is much more complicated than simply unlocking the doors and turning on the lights," Kristin Elia, a spokesperson for the King County Executive's Office said in an emailed statement.

"Full operations and capital for an emergency shelter, even in the short term, are beyond the County's available resources," she continued.

Late last year, King County provided $3 million in grant funding to respond to the migrant influx, helping house more than 350 individuals and families. In April, it awarded four nonprofits $2 million to provide shelter, food, legal services and other assistance.

Next month, the county will receive $5 million from the state, which officials are still assessing how to use. Similarly, the state's Office of Refugee and Immigrant Assistance will begin giving out $25 million to nonprofits and local governments to develop a statewide network to support recently arrived migrants.

Nevertheless, migrants remain hopeful the motel can be a solution for their struggles.

"All of us here have been struggling for months," Jose Guerrero, a Venezuelan migrant said. "My hope is that the mayor, the county, the leaders, open that hotel. As you can see, it's empty and abandoned. All of us, together, we can maintain it and get it ready to house us."

© 2024 Latin Times. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.