Francophone Migrants Face Unique Challenges

By Christine Stoddard |

French-speaking migrants from Africa stand outside of a shelter for asylum seekers at 47 Hall Street in Clinton Hill. In our on-the-street conversations, several men told me that they feel especially isolated as Francophones. As they have experienced, most assistance for recent migrants is only available in Spanish, and New Yorkers they meet in daily street life are unlikely to speak French. A common refrain I heard was, “Americans don’t speak French.” More than one man told me that I was the first French-speaking American they had met.

Bahei, age 34, from Senegal.



Seydinal, age 25, and Anndiaye, age 27, both from Senegal.

Bikes and shopping carts parked outside the shelter.

Migrants may live in the shelter for 30 days–a reduction from the initial 60 days that the City of New York granted. After that, they are discharged (sometimes in the middleof the night) and must find accommodations elsewhere. With no other place to go, many migrants live on the street after they have been discharged.

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