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Mutual Aid in the City of Asylum

Come learn about the ongoing refugee emergency in New York City

Thursday, September 14, 2023 | 7PM EST

Between spring 2022 and late summer 2023, more than 100,000 asylum seekers have arrived in NYC. Refugees have come from Mauritania, Afghanistan, Cuba, Haiti, Senegal, Ukraine, Venezuela, and other countries. Most refugees entered the country through the U.S.- Mexico border. These new New Yorkers are entitled to temporary housing under New York City's Right-to-Shelter Mandate. 300-500 asylum seekers continue to arrive daily in NYC. Along with housing, their needs include healthcare, food security, legal assistance, education, and employment.

Where the City’s response has faltered, groups across New York have mobilized to fill in the gaps. Migrant activists, mutual aid groups, NGOs, and other community-based organizations are directly supporting recently arrived refugees. 

We invite you to hear from those on the front lines of this humanitarian emergency.

Confirmed participants include:

Ariadna Phillips, South Bronx Mutual Aid
Yajaira Saavedra, La Morada Mutual Aid Kitchen
Dr. Nathaniel Kratz, Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital
Adama Bah, migrant activist and author
Sara Deierlin Muñoz Abreu, independent migrant activist
Joshua Goldfein, Legal Aid Society


Ariadna Phillips (she/her/ella) is a Latina STEM educator and Dual Language program director in the South Bronx. At the onset of the pandemic in April 2020, she founded South Bronx Mutual Aid, a mutual aid collective serving the Bronx and Upper Manhattan. South Bronx Mutual Aid stocks the Upper Manhattan and Bronx community fridge network and advocates for human rights and community autonomy across a number of issues, including racial justice, immigration, food justice, housing, labor, and immigrant rights.

Yajaira Saavedra is an Afro-indigenous activist based in the South Bronx. As an experienced field organizer, she has worked with jornaleros in Brooklyn, fighting for workers compensation in Massachusetts, lobbying for the federal Dream Act, participating in steering committees for the New York State Dream Act, and the California Dream Act, electoral campaigns, and was actively involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement. At the start of the pandemic, Yajaira created a network of volunteers, donors, organizations, churches and community fridges to support and sustain the mutual aid soup kitchen at La Morada. With the resources and support that Yajaira and her family mobilized, La Morada has been offering free cooked meals and groceries to thousands of people in The Bronx and Washington Heights for two years.

Nathaniel Kratz is a Cuban-trained physician with board certifications in Internal Medicine and Addiction Medicine. He is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine at Columbia University and an Attending Physician at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. He also serves as Medical Director of the Community Health Worker program in the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital's Division of Community and Population Health. His interests include community-based participatory research, immigrant health, substance use disorders and social justice.

Adama Bah came to the U.S. in 1990, at the age of two. She lived in the States and attended public schools. Then, at sixteen, her whole world changed. The FBI raided her apartment and handcuffed her, along with her father. She was detained and told she was “illegal.” Her father was deported. Adama was allowed to stay but forced to drop out of school and support her family. Now Adama tells her story to call attention to the plight of others like her.

Sara Deierlin Muñoz Abreu is from Venezuela. She is 18 years old, and crossed seven countries with her baby in her arms. She is an activist and immigrant in the United States.

Joshua Goldfein is a staff attorney in Legal Aid’s Homeless Rights Project, where he provides individual and class representation to New Yorkers experiencing homelessness and enforces New York’s right to shelter. The Project also serves as counsel to Coalition for the Homeless, which is a plaintiff in the right to shelter cases and is the court-appointed shelter monitor. He began his legal career in 1993 at Legal Aid’s Harlem office where he handled landlord-tenant, public benefits and family law cases, and was part of a team that won resentencing for a death-row prisoner in Alabama. He currently serves on the institutional review board for the Center for Justice Innovation.

Hemispheric Institute 
20 Cooper Square
New York, NY 10011

Event Access

This is an in-person event that requires registration.

NYU students, faculty, and staff may enter using their NYU ID. All non-NYU attendees must RSVP in advance.