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Immigration

The Hamptons' illegal workers camp in woods behind luxury homes

Illegal immigrants who work at the mansions of the affluent Hamptons, home to some of America’s wealthiest and most famous peoples, are living in squalid migrant camps in the forests nearby because they cannot afford rent

Immigration
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July 18, 2022 1:49am

Updated: July 18, 2022 1:49am

Illegal immigrants who work at the mansions of the affluent Hamptons, home to some of America’s wealthiest and most famous peoples, are living in squalid migrant camps in the forests nearby because they cannot afford rent.

The New York Post interviewed multiple migrants who live in the encampments surrounding the plush town of Southhampton, where A-listers like Jennifer Lopez, Beyonce, Jay Z and Robert Downey Jr. keep a residence.

“I work for very rich people in the Hamptons but I can’t afford somewhere to live,” said Juan Antonio Morales, a 40-year-old Guatemalan who sleeps on a old sofa in the woods off the main highway.

“I am paid very little and an apartment costs too much money.”

Morales says he and other workers spend their days at a nearby 7-Eleven, where they wait for contractors looking for day laborers. He showers in a gas station bathroom.

The camps in the woods are so dense and secluded that many workers treat it like a home, leaving their personal belongings behind as they leave to find work. One migrant told The Post he sometimes sleeps at the camp, even though he has the option of crashing on a sofa in a nearby apartment.

“I sleep on cardboard here in the woods at least three nights a week,” said Nely Lopez, a 38-year-old also from Guatemala.

“I like it here.”

Gina Webster, a Westhampton Beach resident that lives near a camp acknowledges them as an “open secret” among in the town.

“It’s the Hamptons and we like to pretend real-life problems don’t exist here,” she told The Post.

However, migrants and some homeless advocates acknowledge that the arrangement has its benefits.

“I like the Hamptons,” said Julio Cardona Fuentes, 54.

“It’s a safe place to live and there are no problems with migration or police.”

Dan O’Shea, who runs are homeless outreach program on the East End, says most communities in the affluent area have “people living in the woods that have nowhere else to live.”

But he noted that the wealthy residents tend to be generous, allowing the homeless to comfortably stay out of sight instead of scrounging for necessities in the open.

“The Hamptons is a generous community,” O’Shea told The Post.

“The homeless often have brand new work boots from the church and could be wearing a brand new jacket they were given after a coat drive.”