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Monday, February 26, 2024

NY migrant shelter workers hope curfews can keep lid on trouble — but some worry overnight lockdown will ‘make it worse’

Workers at a Long Island City migrant center said they hope new curfews will help ease limit chaos at the nearly 1,000-bed facility – but neighbors have their doubts.

“It’ll make it a lot easier,” a security guard at the Austell Place shelter told The Post on Monday ahead of expanded curfews that will include the shelter and 19 others across Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx.

“It’s not just these guys hanging out,” he said, pointing to a group of migrants lounging in a nearby square. “At night they start partying and you know, getting intoxicated, getting into fights, damaging property.

“They damage businesses around here, we get complaints,” the guard added, claiming many migrants defy shelter rules and sneak e-bike batteries, hot plates, and kettles inside — banned because of their potential to start fires.

“There are about a thousand people here and we can’t stop all of them,” he added. “The battery will set on fire at night. That’s happened at three of the shelters I’ve worked at… It’s really dangerous. They’re not cool about it either, they’re very rebellious.”

Beginning Monday night, Austell Place and 20 other shelters across the city will require migrants to check in by 11 p.m. and remain inside until 6 a.m., with exemptions allowed for nighttime work, schooling, and legal or medical appointments.


Migrants hanging out on the street outside a shelter in Long Island City. Workers there are pleased about the new curfew
Migrants hanging out on the street outside a shelter in Long Island City. Workers there are pleased about the new curfew James Messerschmidt

The Austell Place shelter in Long Island City is one of 20 in the city where new curfews will be implemented Monday
The Austell Place shelter in Long Island City is one of 20 in the city where new curfews will be implemented Monday James Messerschmidt

Though the Austell Place guard thinks the curfew will keep a lid on trouble, not everybody the neighborhood agreed.

“It’s going to make everything much worse for us I can tell you that,” said a worker at a nearby cement plant, who claimed migrants taking up residence in his facility’s storage containers and trucks until officials cracked down on them.

“Using them as bathrooms, cooking in them. I mean you go out there and look now there’s big heavy chains and locks on everything because we’re cleaning human s–t out every morning,” he said.

Rather than calming the chaos, the worker said curfews would merely mean troublemakers who don’t make it inside by curfew will stay out all night.

“This is only going to make it worse,” he said.

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