The Colombian mother who took her own life at a family shelter in Queens had been told “she was a bad mother” by staff just days before taking her own life, according to a friend of the deceased.
DailyMail.com can now confirm the mother-of-two was 32 Leydy Paola Martinez Billalobos, a migrant from Bogota who has been living at the Family Shelter in Hollis, Queens, with her 15-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter since May.
There she was apparently harassed by shelter workers and reprimanded for leaving her children unattended, against shelter rules, before hanging herself from a shower rod on Sunday.
Billalobos was found by her teenage son, Kevin Billalobos, with an electrical cord wrapped around his neck.
The heartbroken boy said pIn the aftermath, he felt responsible for his mother’s death and described his mother to reporters as “perfect”.
Now the teenager and his younger sister, 7, are believed to be staying at a hotel with a family friend since the tragedy.
It is unclear whether they will be sent back to Bogota to live with their father.
Leydy Paola Martinez Billalobos, a migrant from Bogota who had been living at the Family Shelter in Hollis, Queens with her 15-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter since May, took her own life on Sunday. She was waiting for her husband, John Bernal, to join the family in the United States
Residents claimed the rules at the Hollis Family Shelter in Queens (pictured) were too strict and some of the staff were ‘racist’ towards South and Central Americans
A friend, whose name has not been released for security reasons, said Univision/News 41 Tuesday that she and Billalobos had struggled to find jobs because neither of them had work papers.
“We’re looking for everything – doing the dishes, cleaning the apartment, whatever,” the friend said.
Eventually, she said, Billalobos had taken a job cleaning someone’s house.
But when she left for work, Billalobo had to leave her children unsupervised – apparently breaking the shelter’s rule that children 18 and under must have parental supervision.
When some staff found out what she had done they ‘made her feel bad’, called her a ‘bad mother’ for leaving her children alone, the deceased’s friend says at the point of sale.
“She’s been out cleaning the house to feed her kids,” the friend said, adding, “A lot of women are a little depressed because of childcare and because of the rules and regulations at the shelter.”
Meanwhile, Billalobos’ husband John Bernal said his wife was stressed and overwhelmed in the days leading up to his death.
She was alone with their children trying to find work so she could support her family while waiting for him to come to New York – but every time he tried he was sent back to Colombia.
Migrants are loaded onto MTA buses in Manhattan after arriving by bus from Texas at the Port Authority Bus Terminal
“I had advised her to be patient,” he said. “She was desperate because I couldn’t make it. I tried three times but couldn’t.
It is not known whether the children will return to Colombia to be with their father. They are currently staying at a hotel, the outlet reported.
The Colombian consulate is trying to bring Billalobos’ body back to his native Colombia, the outlet said.
DailyMail.com has contacted the shelter and the city’s Department of Health and Human Services for comment.
The friend also revealed to Univision that she heard Kevin’s cries on Sunday afternoon after making the horrific discovery, but was unable to comfort him due to the security surrounding him.
The woman, who lives with her husband and two children – aged 9 and 14 – said she came to New York from Venezuela by bus two months ago and it took them a full month and 15 days to get here.
She said that while she feels “very grateful to have a place to sleep”, “some workers treat mothers very badly”.
In total, more than 11,000 migrants have arrived in New York since May
In fact, Sandra Padera, 42, who has lived at the shelter for three years with her husband and three children, said some of the staff were “racist,” especially towards the Central and South American population. South.
She said she was unable to work and had no work papers, saying, “Those with work papers are treated better than those without.”
Another woman, who asked not to be identified, also said that “the shelter treats emigrants badly, especially immigrants.”
Nadia, 36, who runs a neighborhood grocery store, said Billalobos came looking for a job a few months ago but because she had no work papers she said they couldn’t hire him.
When she learned that Billalobos was the woman who committed suicide at the shelter, she was both shocked and saddened.
I can’t believe it was her. I don’t know why she would kill herself…so tragic.
‘What will happen with his children?’ she asked.
‘I hope they’ll send the husband here now [to New York] and not send their children back to Colombia. It’s so much worse there,” Nadia said.
“At least in New York they will receive benefits and care.”
On Sunday, Mayor Eric Adams revealed that a migrant mother who had arrived in New York months earlier had committed suicide at one of the city’s shelters.
“The thousands of asylum seekers we have seen arrive in our city have come to this country in search of a better life,” the statement begins. “Unfortunately, yesterday an asylum seeker in one of our facilities committed suicide.”
The tragic news comes as Adams declared a ‘humanitarian crisis’ in his city after 2,500 migrants were bused into the Big Apple and floods of people poured into Texas every day.
The mayor said in the statement that the death “reminds us that we have an obligation to do everything in our power to help those in need.”
According to the Democratic mayor, New York’s migrant housing facilities have been pushed to the brink in recent months – with the city having already opened 23 emergency shelters.
Adams said another 38 shelters would need to be created to deal with the growing problem.
Speaking on ABC on Sunday, Adams added: “This is an American crisis that we have to deal with – a humanitarian crisis that was brought about by human hands, by some of the governors of the southern states.”
At least six buses of asylum seekers arrived in New York from Texas on Sunday – as the city’s shelters reached “breaking point”. A total of more than 11,000 migrants have arrived in the city since May, 2,500 of whom were sent by bus by Governor Abbott.
Adams revealed to WCBS that his team is considering potentially housing the thousands of people being bussed into the Big Apple on cruise ships.
He added: ‘We have reviewed everything from the legality of using any type of cruise ship to temporary accommodation.
It comes as Republicans have stepped up their attacks on the Biden administration as they try to make immigration the theme of November’s midterm elections.
Although the Martha’s Vineyard move was hailed in Republican circles, liberals criticized DeSantis for pulling off what they called a cruel blow that used human lives as pawns in a political game.
Among the critics was President Biden, who said DeSantis was “playing politics with human beings.”
If you or someone you know is suffering from suicidal thoughts, please call or text the 24/7 National Suicide Hotline at 988 or 1-800-273-8255.