Buses from New York City to upstate New York continue to drop off asylum seekers in the Hudson Valley and surrounding counties. One of the newest arrivals in Poughkeepsie shared his story about coming to the U.S. with just the clothes on his back, in search of a better life.
An outpouring of care. That’s how immigrants’ rights advocates described the donations that continue to pour in. It's neighborly generosity for newly arrived migrants in Poughkeepsie at this hotel, a Red Roof Inn.
A humanitarian call to action, organized by Reunite Migrant Families, Grannies Respond and NYCLU’s Hudson Valley team is assisting the estimated 80 men who are here, alone and a world away from loved ones.
The migrants are from different countries like Mauritania, Georgia and Venezuela.
Andres Soto, 25, is one of them. He arrived in the U.S. almost three weeks ago. He spoke in Spanish.
Soto said the journey was very hard and that he came with no money. He spent 7 to 8 days in small towns in each country along the way, asking for donations and community support to continue on to his intended destination — the U.S.
It took him eight months, but he reached the states, entering the country to declare asylum. He traveled from western Venezuela, where he’s from, to Ciudad Juarez, along the U.S.-Mexico border, a journey of about 3,000 miles.
On foot, train and by boat.
Soto said the journey wasn’t impossible, especially for someone like him who has dreams of a better life. However, he’s aware of the real dangers along the way. People get killed, kidnapped or robbed in a desperate attempt to reach America.
He said it was a long, arduous journey. Soto says he did it to try to create a better life for his 5-year-old daughter and to support his parents and five siblings.
Asked if he missed his family, he replied, “very much."
Soto said he’s ready to work any job, including in construction or at an auto-repair shop, similar to the work he was doing back in his home country — but for little-to-no money. He said he’s willing to learn and is able to be trained on anything to try and make a living.
Community members here want to set him up for success, starting with clothes for a new job and shoes to carry him into the future in his new country. Soto, overwhelmed with gratitude, flashed a smile. Neighbors went above and beyond to welcome the newest member of their community.
“It felt wonderful. It felt wonderful to be a part of a community that has done this level of outreach,” said Diane Boujikian with Reunite Migrant Families.
Soto is following the legal procedures and has to go through U.S. court system. His first hearing in front of an immigration judge is on June 13. The entire process for an asylum seeker can take months or years.