On any given day, the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown Manhattan is crammed with commuters and tourists off to the office or to Broadway’s “The Lion King.” But since August, the world’s largest bus station has also welcomed thousands of asylum-seekers arriving on unscheduled buses from Texas.
“It’s like a little pop-up Ellis Island where people are meeting volunteers with clothes, shoes and socks and other items,” Alexander Rapaport, CEO of a Jewish nonprofit called Masbia (which in Hebrew means “to satiate”), told RNS in a phone call. “There are volunteers telling them where they can go, where bathrooms are, how they can get more help.”
Just before dawn on Monday (Sept. 19), four Masbia volunteers with a truckload of donations arrived at the triage center, set up by the New York City Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA), the Port Authority and the governor’s office. They joined a handful of other nonprofits to greet three busloads of migrants (most of whom came to the U.S. from Venezuela), handing them new shoes, deodorant and tote bags labeled “With Love from the Jewish Community.”