Another large rally is expected outside the Staten Island school-turned-immigrant home

Hundreds of Staten Islanders rampaged again Tuesday night outside a former Catholic school to protest the city’s sprawling migrant shelters.

The demonstration is the fourth large-scale rally as angry locals continue to rail against the 300-bed space dumped in the Arrochar section of the precinct at the former St. John Villa Academy.

New York City is struggling to find places for the more than 107,000 asylum seekers who have poured into the Big Apple since the spring of 2022.

But the government’s move to house migrants in shelters in all five boroughs drew the harshest backlash on Staten Island, often dubbed the “forgotten borough.”

A few hundred protesters descended on the ad hoc migrant shelter on Tuesday, where they called for the borders to be closed and put up signs reading “Mayor Adams is an idiot” and “Protect our children”.

“All these people are jumping the border!” Queens protester David Rem, 59, told The Post.

The rally on Tuesday evening is the fourth demonstration in front of the former school.

Protesters outside the former St. John Villa Academy in Staten Island's Arrochar neighborhood.
Hundreds have gathered outside the former St John’s Villa Academy since the city announced plans to start housing migrants there.
Paul Martinka

A South Shore woman wearing a “Land of the Free” shirt said she was concerned for the safety of her niece, who attends St. Joseph Hill Academy, a Catholic co-educational elementary school and all-girls high school, on its campus supports the new migrant center at the former site of St. John Villa Academy.

“We try to do what is best for our children [but] It’s like fighting a losing battle,” said Florence P., 68.

The Staten Islander, who works at a pediatrician’s office, said the migrants would need to be screened and vaccinated before they would be welcomed.

“We don’t know her background. Until we find out and get them checked, they’re welcome. Until then, they are not welcome,” Florence said.

Protesters outside the former St. John Villa Academy in Staten Island's Arrochar neighborhood.
The location of the shelter has faced fierce backlash from local residents.
Paul Martinka

Guardian Angels founder and former Republican mayoral candidate Curtis Sliwa is expected to attend the rally on the island, the latest battleground as New Yorkers fight back against Mayor Eric Adams’ handling of the crisis.

The former private school has become the latest flashpoint in the refugee crisis that has gripped the Big Apple since spring last year. More than 107,000 migrants from the US border have been shipped to the five boroughs, and nearly 59,000 are currently being housed by the city.

Residents have been coming to the former school, which was closed and later purchased by the city in 2018, to complain about asylum seekers being brought to the area.

“We love immigrants,” John Tobacco, one of the organizers, previously told The Post. “We love everyone who comes here legally.”

More than 1,000 demonstrators had protested outside the makeshift bunker in Staten Island last week, and police said they expected twice that number to flock to the former school. Shortly thereafter, the police increased their presence after erecting barricades at the crime scene.

Some protesters turned their anger on a Post reporter last week, forcing him to leave the scene.

Meanwhile, counter-demonstrators are on site to welcome the migrants.

About two dozen pro-migrant protesters were at Tuesday’s rally outside the former Catholic school to challenge the notion that the migrants are not welcome in the district. They shouted, “Hey hey! Hoho! Discrimination must go!” and “Say it loud, say it clearly: Refugees are welcome here!”

“There’s always a reputation in Staten Island that these people represent us and they don’t represent us,” Debby Poleshuck, 75, a retired teacher and North Shore resident, told The Post. “I see myself as a reflection of the good people of Staten Island, not the racists and those people.”

Another North Shore resident, Neil Berry, 63, was also at the protest to give a different narrative to the larger crowd.

“We’re better than that,” Berry said. “This city is known for attracting people, immigrants and refugees in search of a better life.”

About two dozen migrants were inside the former St. John Villa Academy last week, according to City Hall.

Last week, a judge temporarily banned the former school from housing migrants, but that was overturned after an eleventh-hour appeal from New York City. The Court of Appeal overturned an eviction order that allowed the migrants already inside the shelter to remain in place.

The next hearing is scheduled for September 14th.


JACLYN DIAZ is a USTimeToday U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. JACLYN DIAZ joined USTimeToday in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing

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