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For many migrants, NYC is letting them know they're not wanted. So they're leaving.

Josephine Stratman, New York Daily News on

Published in News & Features

NEW YORK — City Hall has taken steps to help migrants leave New York City by offering them free fare to anywhere in the country or world and made life tougher by limiting shelter stays. Wait times to get a bed can stretch as long as a week.

Some migrants have had enough. Their city of dreams has become a nightmare.

With winter coming, many have reached new lows and levels of desperation and have decided that a one-way ticket out of the Big Apple is their best shot at a brighter future.

Disillusioned migrants, preparing to leave the city, told the Daily News outside the St. Brigid reticketing site in the East Village that they’re disappointed, struggling to find work and fed up with constantly having to move because of a rule put in place in October that limits their time in homeless shelters to just 30 days.

Andres Buitrago’s hopes of finding a version of the American Dream kept him going while he navigated the notorious Darien Gap and traversed hundreds of miles on foot and by train on his monthslong trek to reach the United States.

But after five months in the U.S., Buitrago, 30, decided to cut his losses and turn around — booking a ticket back home to Cali, Colombia.

 

He found it impossible to find work in New York, and after being kicked out of his shelter, he doesn’t see much of a point to going through the cycle again.

“I didn’t expect this,” Buitrago said. “Because the truth is, I thought there were more job possibilities here than in any other state. I thought that there may be more work, because of the constant flow of people, people from transport, tourism. But work is more limited than I had thought.”

Although he likes the city, the people and the food, he sees no point in staying.

“I didn’t want to leave, because I thought I could find work here, and make a life for myself, but no,” he said. “It’s sad. I have no decision. … If I’m leaving, it’s because, well, I thought I was going to be able to find a job here, to be able to live comfortably, but no."

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