New York
A new fact check by the Associated Press shows that Black immigrants gathered at New York City Hall to hear about racial inequities in shelter system. AFP

NEW YORK CITY - Racial inequities took center stage at New York City Hall as hundreds of Black immigrants made their way to the Lower Manhattan building in order to protest on what they say are broken promises in the city's shelter and immigrant support systems.

Initial reactions from the public indicated that these groups were demanding housing in luxury hotels rather than shelters. But is that the reality? The Associated Press says no.

Over 1,500 immigrants, mostly from Guinea, assembled in City Hall Park on Tuesday, after it became clear that only around a hundred people would be accommodated inside the hearing.

Among the proposals considered, the City Council required administrators to collect better data on migrants in city services. The reason for this is that they believe Black migrants are more often turned away from shelters, denied access to help in their native languages, and less able to find accommodations for religious practices than others.

City officials also say African migrants are more likely to arrive in the city without children, meaning they're often less of a priority for limited sheltered space. Under a recent legal settlement, according to AP News, the city can evict adult migrants after 30 days in a shelter and 60 days for those under age 23, before forcing them to reapply for another spot. It's unclear how often those migrants end up sleeping on the street or in a subway car.

Initial reaction on social media, according to AP, misrepresented the peaceful gathering.

Many shared videos showed the large groups calmly standing, milling about or waiting in line. Other footage showed people cheering outside the building.

"Illegals have just swarmed NYC City Hall and surrounded it," reads one X post that had received approximately 31,000 likes and 20,000 shares as of Wednesday. "They're trying to occupy the building and are demanding luxury hotel rooms provided to illegals instead of the shelters that NYC provided. This is only going to get worse."

On TikTok, a caption in a video of people in line read "today in Biden's America... illegals in NYC stormed City Hall because they are being moved into shelters and out of their luxury hotels." it was viewed approximately 58,700 times.

Regardless of these initial reactions, migrants actually showed up for other reasons. Supporting City Council members at the hearing or seeing if they could get information about jobs or housing were among the top cited ones. Others complained about religious-based experiences, such as the lack of access to halal food in shelters.

In addition, there was no indication that the immigrants had arrived en masse at City Hall to demand such accommodations. At the same time, no arrests were made, according to the NYPD.

Attendees said they discovered the event by word of mouth, often on WhatsApp groups with fellow immigrants. Similarly, Emmet Teran, a spokesperson for Council Member Alexa Aviles, told the AP that groups represented at the conference invited immigrants that they work with to attend, though other early arrivals were also allowed beyond security barriers.

"It's disgusting, but not surprising from the people that are saying these things," Teran said of the online claims. "I think we were very clear in our messaging about the hearing, about what we wanted to cover, which was the experiences of Black immigrants in New York City."

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