Migrants at a Staten Island shelter are bombarded around the clock with loud audio recordings telling them to leave, claiming that the site is infested with rats and mold and that they are “being lied to by Mayor Eric Adams.”
The audio recording was broadcast Monday afternoon by a professional speaker in five languages - English, Spanish, Ukrainian, Chinese and Urdu – at a deafening volume of 117 decibels from homeowner Scott Herkert’s property next to the controversial former St. John’s Villa Academy turned refugee shelter .
A migrant who arrived outside the shelter with her luggage on Sunday when the warning was first heard took out her phone to record it, then called an Uber and fled, residents said.
More than a dozen asylum seekers were seen leaving the site – the site of previous major protests involving hundreds of residents – as audio was heard on Sunday and Monday.
“In my opinion, using legal psychological warfare is fair game,” Newsmax personality and former Independent City Comptroller candidate John Tabacco, who devised the ploy, told The Post outside the shelter on Monday.
In the recording, the shelter is shouted: “Mayor Eric Adams is lying to you.”
“This shelter has 300 cots in one room. You won’t have privacy, you won’t have showers; “They had a hotel room with privacy and a bathroom in NYC,” it says – giving the false impression that the shelter is outside of New York City.
“Don’t get off the bus, tell them you want to go back to the hotel; “This shelter has rats and roaches, this building has mold and is unsafe for you,” the recording states.
“You are being lied to, this building is not safe for people. The community wants you to return to New York City. “Immigrants are not safe here,” the recording continues, once again falsely implying that Staten Island is not a borough.
The site had recently been hit by sewage overflows, but no concerns about mold or vermin had been reported. The former school is equipped with outdoor showers for the temporary residents.
The speaker’s same message was also printed on fliers distributed by volunteers working for Tabacco at Manhattan’s refugee processing center in the former fancy Roosevelt Hotel, he said.
Tabacco said he came up with the campaign after interviewing migrants at Roosevelt.
“They told me they were being lied to,” he said. “You tell them: ‘Come! We have air-conditioned coaches for you. They take you to New York, put you in a nice hotel room and give you a debit card,” and you know, they thought they had it, the American dream.
“Then they find out through friends, social media or just word of mouth that they are not really welcome and that they will be sitting in tents on cots in these small schools in large rooms with no privacy.” 300 cots per room, with strangers. Go to the bathroom outside, shower outside,” he said.
“So yesterday I thought, why don’t I just tell them the truth?” Tabacco said. “You are being lied to. This building is not safe for human habitation. You know, it’s full of mold and cockroaches, and where they are, in hotels in Midtown, they’re doing better, much better than here.”
The message was played by a professional JBL 430-watt speaker from the former Catholic school’s neighbor, Herkert.
After two police officers were spotted investigating the scene, township officials asked Herkert to reject the continuous recording, which the Post measured approached dangerous levels of a rock concert.
Herkert said migrants have taken the message to heart at the 300-bed center, which housed about two dozen asylum seekers earlier this month.
Three migrants were seen leaving the shelter with backpacks as the news broke on Monday.
“At least half a dozen were left 10 minutes into the game,” Herkert said. “Four or five left two hours later, and then we saw four of them leave this morning.”
Neighbor Carla Mohan agreed the vile campaign had been effective.
“Yesterday afternoon when they started playing it, I saw three girls come in and they all stopped. The one with the luggage took out her phone and started recording the message that was going out. Then she didn’t want to go in, she turned around, got in an Uber and drove off,” Mohan said.
“Why shouldn’t they know the truth? They absolutely don’t know the truth,” the longtime Staten Islander said. “I have friends in Venezuela who tell me: ‘Come on, we have jobs for you!’
“It’s not nice how they use these people as pawns. And then these people are targeted as the bad guys, the migrants,” Mohan said. “Mayor Adams, our leaders tell us we need to be compassionate, and now they are backtracking and telling us that is not sustainable.
“These are people. They are being lied to just like we are,” Mohan said.
“So they give up everything to come here, and then they find out that they’re being lied to and that not only are they not going to get a job, but they’re going to sleep on cots next to 300 other people, 300 other strangers. or living in tents and moving around,” she said.
An 86-year-old man who lives a few doors down and didn’t want his name published had mixed feelings about the deafening tactics.
“Honestly, I don’t know if it’s the right thing to do or not. It’s good that they’re doing it in their language now because they were shouting almost the same thing, but all in English,” the man said, referring to the constant stream of protesters at the site in recent weeks.
“At least now the people inside can understand what they’re saying,” he said.
“I feel for them, I really do. “You’re in the middle of a bad situation here,” he said. “But the United States cannot be the home for every person in the world who is in trouble. We can’t do that.