An angry backlash erupted at a Brooklyn high school on Wednesday, after New York City officials housed thousands of migrant families in an auditorium there overnight because of heavy rains and fierce winds at their shelter site.
About 500 migrant families with children were evacuated on Tuesday evening from their tent shelter at a remote former airplane runway in Brooklyn to James Madison High School. Families piled onto the floor and into auditorium seats to sleep. By 2 a.m., several families said they were asked to prepare to return to the tents.
The evacuation led officials to call a remote day of classes for the more than 3,400 students enrolled at the high school, sparking immediate backlash from politicians and parents that echoed on a national stage. Local elected leaders, right-leaning media personalities and even Elon Musk, the tech billionaire, weighed in to criticize the government response.
The outrage was the latest political eruption over the tens of thousands of migrants crossing the southern border in recent months. Republicans have attacked Democrats over how they are managing a crisis that has overwhelmed government agencies.
The blowup over the high school occurred in Midwood, a conservative pocket of southern Brooklyn where tension over the migrants’ presence was already high. The high school received a “torrent of hate calls and even a bomb threat,” city officials said at a press briefing on Wednesday afternoon.
Earlier in the day, a small group of parents and elected officials rallied outside the high school, calling for the tent site at Floyd Bennett Field to be shut down. The mother of one ninth-grade student complained that she had to scramble to rearrange her family schedule when the switch to remote learning was announced.
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