NYC's Biggest Girl Scout Troop Faces Backlash Over Migrants

Troop 6000 has embraced the city's newest residents, but not everyone is happy about it
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 30, 2024 10:00 AM CDT
NYC's Biggest Girl Scout Troop Faces Backlash Over Migrants
Girl Scouts pay a visit to the Statue of Liberty in New York in 2023.   (Kelly Marsh/Girl Scouts of Greater New York via AP)

Once a week in a midtown Manhattan hotel, dozens of Girl Scouts gather in a spare room made homey by string lights and children's drawings. They earn badges, go on field trips to the Statue of Liberty, and learn how to navigate the subway in a city most have just begun to call home. They're the newest members of New York City's largest Girl Scout troop—and they live in an emergency shelter where 170,000 asylum-seekers and migrants, including tens of thousands of children, have arrived from the southern border since the spring of 2022. As government officials debate how to handle the influx of new arrivals, the Girl Scouts—whose Troop 6000 has served kids who live in the shelter system since 2017—are quietly welcoming hundreds of the city's youngest new residents with the support of donations, per the AP.

Last year, Troop 6000 opened its newest branch at a hotel-turned-shelter in midtown Manhattan, one of several city-funded relief centers for migrants. Though hundreds of families sleep at the shelter every night, the Girl Scouts is the only children's program offered. Last January, the group began recruiting at the shelter and rolled out a bilingual curriculum to help scouts learn more about New York City through its monuments, subway system, and political borders. One year later, with nearly 200 members and five parents as troop leaders, the shelter is the largest of Troop 6000's roughly two dozen sites across the city and the only one exclusively for asylum-seekers.

Troop 6000 employs bilingual social workers and a transition specialist versed in supporting children who've experienced trauma. But otherwise, it operates much like any other Girl Scout troop. Not everybody is happy about the evolution of Troop 6000, however. With anti-immigrant rhetoric on the rise and a contentious election ahead, some donors see the Girl Scouts as wading too readily into politically controversial waters. That hasn't fazed the group, or their small army of philanthropic supporters. Amid city budget cuts and a growing need for services, they're among dozens of charities that say their support for all New Yorkers, including newcomers, is more important than ever. "If it has to do with young girls in New York City, then it's not political," says Meridith Maskara, CEO of the Girl Scouts of Greater New York. "It's our job." More here.

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