Former GOP mayoral candidate Curtis Sliwa leads protest against migrant housing at Floyd Bennett Field

curtis sliwa at floyd bennett field protest
Former GOP mayoral candidate protests migrant housing at Floyd Bennett Field.
Photo by Lloyd Mitchell

Hundreds of Brooklynites joined Guardian Angels founder, radio host, and former Republican mayoral candidate Curtis Sliwa to protest against the placement of migrants at Floyd Bennett Field on Tuesday. 

Sliwa, who was arrested Sunday during another protest at the Midland Beach Migrant Center, has been outspoken against asylum-seeking migrant shelters in the city.

This most recent protest came after Gov. Kathy Hochul said she and President Joe Biden’s respective administrations had reached a tentative agreement which greenlit the use of Floyd Bennett Field’s Runway 19 to be used to shelter over 2,000 migrants.

protest signs at floyd bennett
Sliwa said the government planned to house migrants at the federally-owned airfield “against the will of the people.” Photo by Lloyd Mitchell

The potential contract was reached with the help of New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ office. Officials plan to construct a large shelter on the grounds of the federally-owned former naval airfield in order to help accommodate the over 100,000 asylum-seekers who have been steadily arriving in the city since last year.

“We are feeling optimistic that in the near future, we’ll have a contract review in our hand for an opportunity to house upwards of 2,500 people at this time,” Hochul said at a press conference in the Bronx on Monday. “So, that is the process, as I mentioned a week or two ago, that is still ongoing. But I feel that progress has been made. And we just have to review the terms.”

Additionally, the governor announced $20 million will be allocated to help expedite the process for approximately 30,000 migrants within the city’s shelter system in order to help them exit the system faster. 

The city has struggled to find adequate resources to house and care for migrants in recent weeks, resorting to temporarily sheltering people in recreation centers and constructing huge tents on Randall’s Island and in Queens

american flags at floyd bennett field protest
Though the agreement has not get been finalized, the field is expected to house roughly 2,500 asylum-seekers. Photo by Lloyd Mitchell

However, Sliwa and other critics have bemoaned the city’s efforts to aid migrants during this humanitarian crisis and instead have pushed city leaders move to expel the migrants they have settled in New York “against the will of the people.”

Criticizing Adams, who is currently in Israel meeting with its leaders to discuss issues like immigration, Sliwa reproached what he believed was an untimely vacation while the people of the city were left to deal with the growing strains created by the migrant crisis he accused the mayor of creating.

“You know this Eric Adams, swagger man with no plan, where is he?” Sliwa said at the Floyd Bennett Field protest. “He’s on vacation in Israel, right? He created this mess.”

A spokesperson for the mayor responded to Sliwa’s accusations on Wednesday, saying; “Mayor Adams has been front and center managing the asylum seeker crisis, largely alone, since the spring of 2022. In that time, we have provided compassion and care to more than 100,000 asylum seekers and opened up more than 200 sites. Any implication otherwise is ignorant, and for a former candidate for mayor of New York City — home to the largest Jewish population in the world outside of Israel — to criticize an important trip to Israel and the Jewish people when antisemitism is increasing across the nation and globe is shameful and shows Mr. Sliwa’s inability to connect to issues important to New Yorkers.”

Sliwa lobbed similar criticisms against the governor, saying she had been lying about plans to New Yorkers.

“Kathy Hochul said she was negotiating to have migrants sent here for months,” said Sliwa. “They say they won’t put migrant centers in flood zones. Well anyone knows Superstorm Sandy, right, this is a flood zone. So they’ve lied every step of the way. And all I say is follow the money, this is about money, this is about billions of dollars. You say ‘contract’, I say ‘kickback’, because if you were serving the people of New York who elected you or you were the governor and you followed the people that elected you, they don’t want this.”

Instead of housing the migrants, Sliwa suggested that they should be given “a nice boxed lunch” and allowed to use the facilities at the Port Authority and then be dealt with by Biden.

sliwa at floyd bennett field
Sliwa criticized Adams and Hochul, accusing them of lying to their constituents.Photo by Lloyd Mitchell

Contrastingly, both the Legal Aid Society and Coalition for the Homeless issued a joint statement welcoming the aid offered by Governor Hochul, while also insisting that a more exhaustive and clear plan to transition migrants currently housed in the NYC shelter system to work legally in the city be shared with the public.

“We welcome these additional resources from Governor Hochul and her Administration in what we hope is the start of a more meaningful commitment to provide the City with funding, staffing, facilities, coordination and more to avoid another nightmarish scenario where people are relegated to the streets and exposed to the elements,” the statement issued on Monday read. “However, the devil is in the details, and we need more information from the State, including a concrete timeline for transitioning 30,000 new arrivals out of shelter and securing those individuals work authorization, as well as information on the transportation and other critical services that will be made available to new arrivals once Floyd Bennett Field is operational.”

Last updated Aug. 24, 2023 9:14 a.m.