Reticketing Signs Plaster Back Gate of Illegally Converted Building for Migrants in Richmond Hill

Credit: Christine Stoddard

By Christine Stoddard | [email protected]

On Feb. 26, dozens of West African migrants were discovered living in an illegally converted furniture store in Richmond Hill. In this makeshift shelter in Saar’s Whole Furniture on Liberty Ave., men largely from Senegal paid owner Ebou Sarr, himself a Senegalese immigrant, up to $300 a month for accommodations.

As of March 1, the back gate of the store was covered in flyers explaining where migrants could obtain a ticket out of the city. Most of the flyers are written in French, the official language of Senegal, though it is not necessarily the native language of all Senegalese migrants. Flyers were also posted in Arabic, Spanish, Chinese, Turkish, and Portuguese.

Under the city’s reticking program, new arrivals who have been discharged from the NYC asylum seeker shelter system may receive a one-way bus, train, or plane ticket out of New York City. The city’s reticketing center is located at:

St. Brigid

185 East 7th Street

New York, NY 10009

Open 7 days/9 AM to 7 PM

With the city’s 30-day shelter limit for adult asylum seekers, many people find themself without a place to go when the term expires. The migrant shelters maintain a curfew from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m., making night work impossible for a population that has few employment options.

Complicating the issue of intaking asylum seekers in New York City is language. While the majority of migrants to the city are from Latin America, largely Venezuela, many are coming from West Africa, such as Senegal and Mauritania. More than 30 languages are spoken in Senegal, including Wolof, Serer, Fula, and Diola. Approximately 37% of the Senegalese population speaks French, mostly as a second language. The official language of Mauritania is Arabic; French was the official language until 1991.

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