Canarsie native and 77 WABC radio host Curtis Sliwa led a protest at Floyd Bennett Field last week, denouncing the placement of 2,500 migrant men at the federal site, to be used for emergency shelter. Hundreds of protesters from Southeast Brooklyn and the Rockaways were in attendance at the August 22nd rally, where it was announced the number was increased to 7,000 men.
Governor Kathy Hochul has been working on the plan with the federal government for months and released a statement the previous day: “After months of negotiations, the Biden Administration has provided us with a tentative contract that would allow New York to utilize Floyd Bennett Field as a shelter for asylum seekers. Once the final agreement is signed, we will work with Mayor Adams and his team to set up a Humanitarian Emergency Relief and Response Center at Floyd Bennett Field.”
The governor wants to grant work authorization “immediately” and has committed $20 million toward legal services to assist the asylum seekers.
Since the spring of 2022, over 104,000 asylum seekers have arrived in NYC. The city has opened 206 emergency shelters, and Mayor Eric Adams predicts if things do not change, the price tag could top $12 billion over three fiscal years.
Residents waved American flags, chanted “Joe Must Go” and carried signs, displaying their outrage over placing tents on a federal site, part of Gateway National Recreation Area, where their children play soccer, and there are no amenities and little transportation options for the migrants. Upon news of the plan to set up a “tent city,” fearful parents called the Aviator Sports Center, located at the site, to pull their children out of the programs they are enrolled in.
“Joe Biden created this problem. Let them put tents on the National Mall!” Sliwa exclaimed at the rally. “They say they won’t put migrant centers in flood zones. What about Hurricane Sandy? They lied every step of the way,” he said. “It’s all about money – contracts and kickbacks.”
“People feel they have been betrayed. There has been no transparency whatsoever. Sort of like pay your taxes, shut up, raise your kids and we’ll tell you what to do. We’ve had enough. No more of the illegal aliens!”
Sliwa said it’s a dangerous situation because none of the illegals have been vetted. “We don’t know who they are. Normally, if you come here the right way, you get vetted. You get checked medically, you get your shots, but they got an easy pass.”
Sliwa says Rikers Island is the perfect place to house the migrants. “There’s plenty of space there.”
Maggie Piccininni, a Mill Basin resident and the owner of a business on Avenue N, attended the rally. She told the Canarsie Courier, “As a taxpaying citizen, I should have the right to know who is coming into my neighborhood. I believe they should be vetted.” She said she is concerned about hygiene and health issues. “They are not vaccinated; who is going to pay for all this?” And as a business owner, Piccininni is concerned about her business and the safety of her employees, as well as her property value and her own personal safety.
Assemblywoman Jaime Williams was also in attendance and is adamantly opposed to using Floyd Bennett Field as a shelter. “Not on our dime,” she said. “This decision was made in the still of the night. I have not received communication from the governor or the mayor.”
Photos by Charles Jones