In a letter to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Bronx elected officials joined Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. and City Council Member Mark Gjonaj to urge city agencies to provide more resources to ease the transition for Puerto Ricans relocating to New York City following the earthquakes that hit the island in early January.
“The people of Puerto Rico are filled with anxiety and fearful of what lies ahead for their island,” states the letter. “Their relocation process should be streamlined to provide them with the emotional, spiritual and mental health care that they need as well as the basic resources that are needed to live in our city.”
The letter was signed by 27 other city, state and federal elected officials from the Bronx.
The letter notes that Puerto Rico has faced multiple natural disasters in the past few years, and that in many ways the island has not yet recovered from the devastation of Hurricane Maria in 2017.
Borough President Diaz was able to see the devastation caused by the earthquakes firsthand during a recent trip to the island with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in January.
“The situation is still dire in Puerto Rico and this issue is not occurring in a vacuum,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. “There are more than 176 thousand people born in Puerto Rico who currently reside in our city and we are expecting that number to rise with these latest catastrophic incidents. We need to be ready to accommodate Puerto Ricans taking refuge in New York City and make it easy for them to thrive.”
The borough president added that it is imperative that New York City agencies move quickly to counteract the negative affect of the Trump administration dragging its feet to help the more than three million Americans that call Puerto Rico their home.
“As a city, we must act immediately to help the people of Puerto Rico as they cope with the aftermath of a series of recent natural disasters. New York City and Puerto Rico share a special relationship and it is our moral obligation to stand with and support our fellow Americans as they begin the long and difficult journey of recovery and rebuilding,” said Council Member Mark Gjonaj.
Read the full letter here: https://on.nyc.gov/3bhpTVN
“The Trump Administration has failed the people of Puerto Rico time and again. New York and Puerto Rico have a strong relationship, especially here in the Bronx, and as such we believe the City is uniquely equipped to help. We can and must do better for our fellow citizens from Puerto Rico and I will continue to stand with them during this difficult time. My thanks to Borough President Diaz Jr. for his commitment and partnership on this critical issue,” said Congressman Eliot L. Engel.
“While the current administration continues to show their lack of compassion for our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico throughout numerous natural disasters, New York has continued to welcome displaced people with open arms. I am proud to join my colleagues in this request to provide supportive services to those people who are coming to our great city from Puerto Rico due to the recent earthquakes,” said Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz.
“Even as Puerto Rico attempts to rebuild and recover from Hurricane Maria, this recent string of earthquakes has created even more devastation for the thousands of residents who have been left without shelter and forced out of their homes. New York City must stand by our brothers and sisters by opening our doors to those seeking refuge and assisting in this difficult transition. Our City agencies have the power to expedite this process by streamlining access to essential services like healthcare and basic resources that will not only help in their recovery, but allow them to thrive and continue to have fulfilling lives,” said State Senator Jose M. Serrano.
“The recent earthquakes have reminded us that Puerto Rico remains vulnerable to natural disasters – and that we must do all that we can to help our brothers and sisters on the island. The support of our city in creating a streamlined relocation process that helps these people gain access to municipal resources, as well as navigating any FEMA benefits they are entitled to as disaster survivors, would be a crucial step in helping those that have been displaced,” said Council Member Diana Ayala.
“We must live up to the spirit that has always defined who we are as New Yorkers and mobilize our collective efforts to ensure the people of Puerto Rico who have been displaced from their homes have the support and resources to live and thrive here,” said Council Member Andrew Cohen. “Our city has shown great leadership assisting with ongoing earthquake relief and recovery efforts in Puerto Rico in the wake of recent tragedies, but we need to do more to provide for Puerto Ricans seeking refuge in New York City and support them with the full strength of our community as they navigate this difficult transition and rebuild their lives.”
“As many of our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico are still without power and reeling from the devastating effects of the earthquakes, we must continue to offer support in our neighborhoods and at City Hall to Puerto Ricans relocating to New York City. I am proud to join with all of my colleagues in government in calling on the administration to provide greater protections and resources for our neighbors relocating to the City of New York,” said Council Member Vanessa L. Gibson.
“We are calling for urgent action to help the people of Puerto Rico who have endured unmeasurable devastation, financially, mentally, emotionally and health wise. Puerto Rico is an Island that many New Yorkers love, to visit families! Many benefit from the natural resources and beauty of the Island. And so with this is mind, it is time for the Administration to face the reality that you just can’t enjoy the best of what’s to offer and at time of dire need, such as now, ignore the people! Unfortunately The Trump Administration is only working on stagnating the process! We must ALL COME TOGETHER to support the people of Puerto Rico and help those seeking refuge in New York City with the transition! Timing is critical!” said Council Member Andy King.