Our beautiful residential Eastern Queens neighborhood now has a massive migrant tent city om the Creedmoor Psychiatric Hospital grounds. It was erected in the SNAP Senior Center parking lot on Hillside Ave in Bellerose, directly across the street from PS18 Winchester Elementary School, and a playground, a ballfield, and the Cross Island YMCA. This is where the city is housing 1,000 unvetted single male migrants.
Some weeks ago, we organized a non-partisan coalition in our neighborhood to protest the mayor’s reckless plan after it was officially announced on July 26. We held protest rallies to declare in our loudest voices, “No Tent City at Creedmoor!” Local civic associations, co-ops, PTA members, and homeowners came together in a united alliance called “Coalition to Save Our Neighborhood.” We all put aside our political differences and came together in solidarity on the issue: Tear down the tent city at Creedmoor!
We organized a series of seven rallies, with the help of Curtis Sliwa, starting with a gathering of about 100 outraged neighbors, which quickly morphed into protests involving 1,000s. Curtis fired up the crowd with the red-hot determination that we won’t stop until the tents are taken down, and the illegal alien invasion, turning New York City into a miserable third-world country, is stopped.
At the massive August 16 protest, we all stood together chanting “No Tent City!” loudly, as the first few buses of migrants had already arrived at the newly completed tent structures. There was a huge media presence as Curtis, and a group of 12 of us, were arrested in a non-violent demonstration of civil disobedience. This was the top news story on all the major networks that evening and the following days. Every time Curtis Sliwa gets arrested, people pay attention, and it gets results.
The nonviolent civil disobedience campaigns of the 1960s, led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., spawned a national movement that attracted widespread media attention and was ultimately successful in ending segregation and eliminating discrimination. Mahatma Gandhi changed the face of political protest with his non-violent resistance movement, which helped India gain independence after a century of British colonial rule. Now, Curtis Sliwa is leading New Yorkers in this powerful form of nonviolent protest until the migrant tents are taken down, the invasion of illegal aliens into New York City is terminated, and the border is closed.
The vast majority of New Yorkers – Democrats, Republicans, and independents alike – want to save our neighborhoods. I had an opportunity to tell this to Mayor Adams after our club marched in the India Day Parade, celebrating Indian Independence on August 13. We met him with a group of 20 protesters outside of Gregorian Hall, at St. Gregory the Great Church in Bellerose. As the mayor’s limo pulled up, we were shouting “No Tent City” and “One-Term Mayor” over and over so he could hear our exasperation. Unexpectedly, he walked over to us and said it’s not his problem, it’s our problem. I was able to speak to him respectfully and express our frustration and offer common-sense solutions. Addressing him as “Mr. Mayor,” I told him bluntly, tear down this tent city at Creedmoor, in our residential community with an elementary school 50 yards away; it’s not the right place for 1,000 unvetted migrants. I offered to him the plan proposed by City Councilman Robert Holden and others to house 20,000 to 30,000 migrants in the abandoned buildings on Rikers Island. I also insisted on behalf of all outraged New Yorkers, whom he represents, to tell President Biden to close the border, build the wall, just as Gracie Mansion has a wall.
I had other sensible solutions that I didn’t get a chance to tell the mayor. I wanted to propose that he declare a city-wide state of emergency and waive the sanctuary policies, which prevent cooperation with federal authorities and protect criminal aliens. Mr. Mayor, if you’re listening, I propose that you cooperate with the feds and bring in ICE to vet the migrants. If they have criminal records, deport them. If they’re not true asylum seekers, deport them. We know that the vast majority are not true asylum seekers. Rather, they are economic opportunists, here for the services and economic benefits that are freely offered to migrants in New York City but denied to our own needy Americans. Mr. Mayor, NYC is not the doormat of the world at taxpayer expense!
We would welcome refugees from war-torn countries. Where are the Ukrainians? Where are the Syrian Christians tortured and wounded by ISIS? What about the Afghan nationals who risked their lives to help the US Military in Afghanistan, left behind by the Biden administration, now at the mercy of Taliban rule. We would welcome true asylum seekers. We’re not anti-immigrant, we’re anti-illegal immigrant.
The mayor is appealing for more aid from the state and federal government, but the solution isn’t more money, which would be spent on more housing, services, and amenities for the migrants. This would only serve to exacerbate the crisis. More money would go to benefit the migrants, not New Yorkers. We already have 100,000 migrants in New York City. Next year, we could have 200,000 or more. This is an invasion and it’s coming to your neighborhood next!
We are Americans. We are problem solvers, and we will solve this problem and remove the tents and migrants. But we have leadership on a local, state, and federal level that do not want to solve the problem. That’s the message we got from Mayor Adams. It’s time for the mayor to wake up and tear down this tent city!
We need to keep up the pressure, letters, calls, rallies, and civil disobedience to force our mayor and all our elected officials to do something! Otherwise, there will be payback at the polls in November.
By Phil Orenstein