A New York City deputy mayor is pleading with state and federal officials for help as the city struggles with an influx of thousands of migrants amid an ongoing homelessness crisis.
The city is at a “breaking point,” as more than 900 people have arrived in New York in just one day, Deputy Mayor for Health & Human Services Anne Williams-Isom said during a Wednesday briefing at City Hall. However, she said, Mayor Eric Adams’ administration has “made a commitment to not have anybody sleeping on the streets.”
“What I want New Yorkers to really understand in this moment is that we are in an emergency and that we are at a breaking point for the system,” she said. “We are putting all options on the table, and we are going to look at everything and make the best decisions that we can.”
New York City has already spent $1 billion to house tens of thousands of asylum seekers and anticipates that figure could climb to $4.3 billion through June 2024 to “manage” the influx of migrants in the nation’s most populous city, Williams-Isom said.
The city has been dealing with a spike in homelessness before the surge in migrant arrivals, leaving its shelters packed and overwhelmed. More than 60,000 migrants have arrived in New York in the past year, with 4,200 since Title 42 expired on Thursday, according to City Hall officials.
Title 42 was enacted by former President Donald Trump during the COVID-19 pandemic. The health measure allowed U.S. border officials to expel migrants without a formal asylum process in an effort to stop the potential spread of the virus. When President Joe Biden signed a resolution declaring May 11 as the end of the health emergency in the U.S., Title 42 expired that evening.
Critics of the president’s decision feared it would lead to chaos in already overwhelmed border communities, prompting some Southern states to announce their own plans ahead of the policy’s end date.
Newsweek has reached out via email to representatives of N.Y. City Hall officials for comment.
Williams-Isom, during a briefing on the asylum crisis Wednesday, called on federal lawmakers to “manage the overarching policies and practices that affect our country’s borders and our countries, asylum seeker processing systems.” She said her city is incapable of handling the crisis alone.
During the briefing, which also aired on YouTube, the deputy mayor cautioned that New York is at a breaking point after this latest wave of migrants but said the city will continue “to meet existing legal obligations.”
“The city’s shelter capacity is full, and we have exhausted options for traditional shelter sites for the migrants,” she said. “We are now turning to temporary alternative options like gyms and large open spaces for some relief. Let me be clear, this is not our preference for shelter, but it is the only option that we have.”
Earlier this week, many NYC hotels were slammed by social media users after it was revealed several were reportedly evicting homeless veterans to house migrants in their place, with the swaps giving hoteliers an additional profit of $100 per night on average.
Adams recently came under fire after sending some of the migrants to facilities outside New York City—including New York state’s Hudson Valley and as far as the Canadian border—as members of city council have been debating over migrant relocation facilities.
Rockland County officials called on New York City to cease busing migrants into the northern county, saying the migrants are already creating unprecedented strains on the area’s schools, food pantries, housing and social services. Rockland declared a state of emergency last week over the busloads of asylum seekers, according to the Hudson Valley Post.
“The sheer lack of communication and planning from New York City on this crucial matter is unacceptable,” said Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano, whose Westchester County city has also received migrants, according to the Post.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who on Tuesday issued his own plea for help dealing with the migrant crisis, has been criticized over his efforts to bus migrants out of his state as a political move against the Biden administration’s immigration policies. Critics, including Adams, said the Republican is deliberately targeting cities with Black leaders.
Adams, who is Black, slammed Abbott this month on Twitter, saying it’s “impossible” to ignore that Abbott’s busing strategy is aimed at New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Denver and Washington, D.C., because they’re “run by Black mayors.”
After governors in states like Texas and Florida began sending migrants north to cities like New York last year, Adams declared a state of emergency. A total of 17,000 asylum seekers were bused from Texas, resulting in a “humanitarian crisis” in his city, the mayor said.
Abbott’s press secretary, Andrew Mahaleris, denied Adams’ accusations, saying the mayor was “spreading falsehoods and outright lies.”
“[Adams] knows full well these migrants willingly chose to go to New York City, since his staff saw firsthand on their secret trip to Texas last year as migrants raised their hands to go on buses to his sanctuary city,” Mahaleris previously told Newsweek.