Since April, 500 of New York’s newest asylum-seeking immigrants have received free English classes in a pilot program from the city’s public hospital network, the Department of Youth and Community Development, and groups like the RiseBoro Community Partnership. .
“It makes me proud as an immigrant who came here at the age of five with my mother, with my family, someone who grew up here and recognizes the importance of knowing English, at least a little English in order to survive in this city and in this country, to ensure we have the correct and secure information to navigate services and life in New York,” said Manuel Castro, Mayor’s Commissioner for Immigration Affairs.
The classes are being offered at the same Humanitarian Emergency Relief and Response Centers, or HERRCs for its acronym in English.
Community partners like RiseBoro bring teachers to the Watson, Wolcott, Stewart, and Holiday Inn Financial District hotels in Manhattan and the Wingate Hotel in Long Island City.
“There were papers attached that informed us of the classes but we could not get into the application because it is through a QR code and several people tried because English for us is the most important thing at this time to have more job opportunities in this country” said Héctor Linares, a Venezuelan asylum seeker.
The classes have been scheduled to have various times and the students take them weekly, but Linares is not the only resident of the Watson Hotel who did not receive the information.
“I really didn’t know, until now I found out, but it seems good to me because English is hard for us here,” said Libardo Hernández, a Colombian who is also an asylum seeker.
One mother who asked us not to use her name said she will enroll with her children with the intention of becoming self-sufficient and eventually leaving the city-provided shelter.
“It is a help and we hope to continue until we can find a better job to be able to function and pay rent,” said the mother.
The authorities plan to continue expanding this program to reach more and more asylum seekers. At the moment, those interested in registering can talk to the social workers at the shelters.
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