Secret migrant camps in the Hamptons
Residents of the Hamptons said Monday that they were shocked to read in The Post that illegal immigrants were living in the woods near the area's huge mansions. Angry online commenters blamed nouveau-riche property owners and liberal voters.
"I have never seen anyone living on the street in the Hamptons. A woman from Southampton said, "I first heard about it when I read about it in The Post."
"In the morning, I see those guys at the 7-Eleven while they wait for work. I bet they can't find a place to live because it's so expensive, but you don't see anyone sleeping on the streets."
Bill Gallo, who is 74 and lives in Remsenburg, said, "I didn't know. I don't think anyone here would even know."
"In 2015, I bought a house in the Hamptons." The retired grain trader said, "I live half the time in Florida and half the time here."
"When you walk around Southampton, you don't see anyone living on the street."
Gallo said, "I thought migrant workers lived in areas near the Hamptons with lower incomes, like some parts of Riverhead or Speonk. These are very poor areas."
The Post's exclusive report that day laborers were living in secret camps all over the wealthy town of Southampton made people angry on Twitter.
"One difference between the 'old' Hamptons, which were the Hamptons before the 1980s, and the 'new' Hamptons is that people in the 'old' Hamptons would have been horrified and embarrassed that the people who worked for them lived in homeless squalor," wrote @EdwardMSuarez.
Stephen Miller, who works for the Trump administration and is against immigration, also tweeted, "Leftist elites open our borders so they can get cheap labor, then they put up gates, fences, and guards to keep people out of their compounds. Biden's America."
"Keep voting Lib, New York, you guys deserve each other," @Ronin7964 said.
@nyhoopcoach, another user, said, "I'd love it if the conditions were so bad that immigrants didn't want to come to Hamptons. Then the rich would have to do their own work."
Jay Schneiderman, the town supervisor of Southampton, said that part of the problem was how people felt about plans for affordable housing. He said, "I've been sued over and over again" for supporting different plans.
"Even though people know they need it, they often don't want affordable housing close to where they live," he said.
"They worry that their quality of life will go down if instead of a single-family home being built next door, 40 apartments are."
Schneiderman also said, "I try to build a community where everyone is welcome and an economy that works for everyone."
But it's hard to make the numbers work when land is so expensive."
The Post found illegal immigrants living in the woods behind the Southampton Full Gospel Church on Route 27. Plans for 60 units are being looked at in Southampton.
Concern Housing, a non-profit developer, said they hope to start building in December, but migrants "will not be able to get the cheap housing because they must have a legal status."
Schneiderman also said that the campers wouldn't qualify for the proposed housing because "there are certain income thresholds that have to be met and you have to show income statements to qualify for the program."
So, he said, it would be hard for someone without papers to meet those requirements.
Mayor Maria Moore of Westhampton Beach, where there is a camp in the woods behind a closed gas station, didn't answer emails asking for her thoughts.
Bryan Browns, the chief legal operations officer for Legal Aid of Suffolk County, told The Post, "Our only concern is the well-being of the workers who are homeless. If we can help one person with a blanket or a tent, then our mission is moving forward."
In an email, a representative for Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said, "There are serious concerns about affordable housing on the east end of Long Island."
"Our Department of Social Services works with local government and non-profits to make sure that people in need have access to all available resources," the spokesperson said.
County officials said that illegal immigrants can't get help with housing from the DSS.