Newark Is Seeing a Surge of Brazilian Asylum-Seekers

Paula Moura | May 14, 2019 | Immigration
Immigrants are drawn to established Brazilian communities, like Newark’s Ironbound, but many are unaware of the hardships they will face

Credit: Paula Moura/WNYC
Brazil Square, Newark
For four months now, Adriana has been sharing a room with her husband and two children in a one-bedroom apartment in Newark. It’s the first apartment they’ve ever lived in — much different from their rural home in Brazil’s southeastern Minas Gerais state, where she cooked meals in a wood-burning stove.

Adriana, 32, and her family crossed the U.S.-Mexico border and surrendered to border agents, hoping to pursue asylum. She did not want to reveal her real name because she fears it could hurt their chances. To finance the trip, her family sold their small rural pasture. They saw no future in Brazil. Last year, she said, life became harder as food and utilities became more expensive.

More and more Brazilians are fleeing economic hardship — including unemployment, inflation and poverty — and coming to Newark, where they are welcomed by an established, Portuguese-speaking community, and have access to jobs and other resources. Many have settled in Newark’s Ironbound neighborhood, where Brazilian immigrants have lived for decades. On Ferry Street, they can find Brazilian supermarkets, restaurants, food carts and cafes, as well as dishes from back home.

Read the full story on WNYC News, a content partner of NJ Spotlight.