2023 Gather Award in Community-Centered Journalism, Overall Excellence, Micro/Small Newsroom finalist

Covering New York’s Response to Asylum Seekers

About the Project

In the spring of 2022, the governors of Arizona, Texas and Florida started to arrange buses to transport thousands of migrants to the East Coast. Since then, more than 31,000 migrants have been processed through New York City’s Department of Homeless Services shelter system, adding to the already existing population of 47,000 homeless New Yorkers and bringing again into light the profound housing crisis in the City.

Documented is New York’s only newsroom dedicated to covering the stories that impact immigrant communities. We believe that reporting with immigrant New Yorkers, rather than simply on them, is essential to providing journalism that changes lives. This people-centered approach has never been as paramount as it has been during the past year, when tens of thousands of new migrants started to arrive without the proper guidance or resources.

Newly arrived migrants face hunger and are forced to navigate job searches and schools in a language they don’t understand. As New York’s go-to source for immigration news, our team quickly noted this critical situation. Our reporters started to receive questions on our WhatsApp service. New migrants and asylum seekers were asking them for information about housing, food, and legal representation. We quickly realized that we had two tasks ahead of us –covering the unfolding crisis and providing people with the information they needed to survive once they arrived.

Since then, we have covered this crisis’s impact on mental health, reporting on the story of a mother who died by suicide at a Queens shelter while living with her children. We have exposed that the Border Patrol is confiscating Venezuelans’ passports, making it impossible for some asylum seekers to renew their documents since there’s no Venezuelan consulate in the U.S.

We have reported on the scarcity of resources at shelters, the lack of legal representation and the long lines outside of immigration court hearings. We have also shown how migrant children are adjusting to their new lives in the City or how asylum seekers use TikTok to document their journey from South America to the U.S. border.

At Documented, we want to ensure that we break the cycle of extractive immigration reporting. That is, moving away from a type of coverage that benefits from telling the stories of the most vulnerable without giving anything back nor recognizing their contribution to journalism. In our coverage, we have frequently included actionable information on working rights for undocumented workers and asylum seekers, and how to find a detained family member.

From the start, however, it was clear that many migrants did not have any local family members to help them navigate the City. When our staff tried to give them directions or create explainers, there still was information that they could not understand. For that reason, we have also created two new websites to help migrants navigate their new home: and