Here’s why NYC migrants aren’t accepting free plane, bus tickets out of town

Migrants booted from the Big Apple’s overflowing shelter system on Tuesday said they’re turning down the city’s offer for free plane or bus tickets out of town because it’s too hard to start over elsewhere.

Of the more than two dozen asylum seekers The Post spoke to outside an intake center in the East Village, most said they preferred to stay put and try their luck in New York City — even if it meant going more weeks without a shelter bed.

“Why leave here and start all over?” said Jesus Hernandez, 40, of Venezuela, adding he expects to wait four days to a week to find out about where he’ll be living next.

Some joked the dating scene is what’s keeping them here.

“I want job. I want to stay. I want wife too,” said one Senegalese migrant, who didn’t want to be named.

Migrants booted from the Big Apple’s overflowing shelter system say they’re turning down the city’s offer of a free plane or bus ticket because it’s just too hard to start over elsewhere. J. Messerschmidt for NY Post
Migrants booted from the Big Apple’s overflowing shelter system say they’re turning down the city’s offer of a free plane or bus ticket because it’s just too hard to start over elsewhere. J. Messerschmidt for NY Post

The Post spoke to asylum seekers and staff at the former St. Brigid’s School on East 7th Street after it was revealed fewer than 2% of migrants there were willing to relocate to another city or state after maxing out their 30-day shelter stay.

“I haven’t heard of anyone taking the ticket,” said an employee at the intake center, who didn’t want to be named.

“They come here and all want to stay.”

The newly released data from the city’s emergency management agency showed an average of just 30 migrants per day — out of the 1,600 who head to the intake center — were taking up the city’s offer to relocate elsewhere.

Hundreds of single adult asylum seekers have been heading to the center each day in a bid to re-enter the city’s shelter system after the Mayor Eric Adams’ administration moved to limit their stays to 30-days to free up space.

Scores of migrants crowded into Tompkins Square Park Tuesday after trying to reenter the city’s shelter system. LP Media
Scores of migrants crowded into Tompkins Square Park Tuesday after trying to reenter the city’s shelter system. LP Media

Some migrants said they’ve waited 20 days to re-enter the system — and would rather scramble for a place to sleep than accept the free ticket out of the Big Apple.

At least one migrant from Venezuela said the support and money he’s received from the Big Apple so far has made him unmotivated to leave.

“I’m grateful for the help. Of course, I’d love to go see some other part of the country, but I can’t complain about my time here,” said Alex Puerta, 49. “Once I start working full time I definitely won’t leave. But permission to work is taking a long time.”

Puerta’s friend Hernandez, a former travel agent, also said he’s still waiting on permission to work after being in the city for six months. Puerta said he hauls an air mattress around for them to sleep on.

“I haven’t had to sleep on the street – thank God – I sleep in churches in Harlem or The Bronx when they kick us out,” he said.

Heiddi Gomez, a 28-year-old trans woman from Venezuela, said she was grateful for the city’s free healthcare and was unwilling to accept the free ticket offer because her documents are more complicated than others. LP Media
Heiddi Gomez, a 28-year-old trans woman from Venezuela, said she was grateful for the city’s free healthcare and was unwilling to accept the free ticket offer because her documents are more complicated than others. LP Media

Meanwhile, Heiddi Gomez, a 28-year-old trans woman from Venezuela, said she was grateful for the city’s free healthcare and was unwilling to accept the free ticket offer because her documents are more complicated than others.

“I need to file my documents under my old name, too, I am waiting to change my name and complete my transition,” Gomez said, adding that the extra step was a burden she doesn’t want to have to repeat.

“My love, I don’t care how exotic of a place they want to send – they can include hotel, too – but I’m staying in New York, honey.”

The city has so far coughed up $7.6 million to re-ticket migrants out of the Big Apple since the start of the crisis in spring of 2022, according to City Hall.