Mayor Eric Adams and the city crunched the numbers on the asylum seeker crisis’s future costs and determined that the city could spend “upwards of $12 billion over three fiscal years” without state and federal government aid.
“Immigration is the New York story. It is the American story. But as I declared nearly a year ago, we are facing an unprecedented state of emergency due to the asylum seeker crisis,” said Adams.
Since last year, nearly 100,000 asylum seekers have arrived in the city, with about 57,000 still here. The city said it has spent $1.45 billion in Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 to provide shelter, food, and services for asylum seekers so far.
“Our compassion may be limitless, but our resources are not. This is the budgetary reality we are facing if we don’t get the additional support we need. Without immediate assistance from our state and federal partners, we will continue to see heartbreaking scenes like the one outside The Roosevelt last week,” said Adams.
In addition to more financing, Adams is calling for the federal government to expedite work authorizations for asylum seekers, declare a state of emergency at the southern border, provide reimbursement for costs incurred by the city, and create a nationwide decompression strategy to ensure the flow of asylum seeker arrivals is more fairly distributed.
Other local officials, like Speaker Adrienne Adams, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso, joined Mayor Adams in calling for more support from higher levels of government. The Legal Aid Society and the Coalition for the Homeless also said in a joint statement that they echoed the Mayor’s calls on both Washington and Albany to significantly increase resources to help with the influx of migrants.
“All levels of government must come together to share responsibility for the nation’s response to the dire humanitarian conditions that have led increasing numbers of people to seek asylum here,” said Speaker Adams in a statement. “As this international crisis continues, New York City needs more support from our federal and state governments to provide and set up shelter locations and devote additional funding.”
Speaker Adams added that there is a serious need to address the long-term drivers of the housing crisis and record homelessness impacting the city as well.
“Today, our call to action is loud and clear: the Federal and State administrations and private sector must aid New York City in addressing the migrant crisis – the well-being of our city demands it,” said Reynoso in a statement. “As Borough President, I am ready to do my part in welcoming our new neighbors – earlier this summer, I offered to the Adams Administration that Borough Hall could be used as a shelter for migrants, a promise that I stand ready to fulfill. The City of New York is stepping up to provide for our new neighbors, but we cannot do it alone, and many of the partners that we need have been absent for far too long. I implore President Biden, Governor Hochul, and the private sector to step up.”
Meanwhile, in a joint city council hearing on immigration and general welfare held on Aug 10, council members grilled city commissioners about Adams’s new 60-day shelter stay limit for asylum-seeking adult single men.
Many fear the rule will lead to more migrants resorting to street homelessness. City leadership testifying in the hearing did not say they have a satisfactory backup plan should that happen.
New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) Executive Director Murad Awawdeh harshly reprimanded Adams’s immigration policies.
“Mayor Eric Adams must stop doubling and tripling down on bad strategies and policies that don’t work and never did. His administration has remained in an emergency crisis posture since the first buses arrived instead of developing a long-term strategy on how to house and integrate new arrivals,” said Awawdeh.
Awawdeh said that advocates have repeatedly demanded that Adams stop building new relief and respite centers and focus on moving people from shelters into permanent housing. “Yet, the Adams administration is stubbornly sticking to a plan that is costly and clearly isn’t working,” said Awawdeh. “Threatening further austerity measures as a necessary evil is simply disingenuous.”
Ariama C. Long is a Report for America corps member and writes about politics for the Amsterdam News. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by visiting https://bit.ly/amnews1.