The mayor of New York, Eric Adams, has said an increase in migration would “destroy” the city, seemingly blaming the Biden administration for failing to provide federal support as much as the Republican governors who have sent asylum seekers north.
Adams made the remarks during a Wednesday town hall meeting on the Upper West Side. The comments were some of his most biting to date on the issue of asylum seekers.
“Never in my life have I had a problem that I did not see an ending to. I don’t see an ending to this,” Adams said. “This issue will destroy New York City.”
More than 110,000 migrants have arrived in New York since last year, Adams said, adding that governors of Republican states had bussed asylum seekers to the city without coordinating with New York officials. Adams seemed to specifically refer to the Texas governor, Greg Abbott, who bussed immigrants to Democratic-led cities including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.
“We’ve turned this city around in 20 months,” Adams said. “And then what happened? Started with a madman down in Texas, decided he wanted to bus people up to New York City: 110,000 migrants.”
Adams said New York had not received federal support.
“We’re getting no support on this national crisis,” he said.
Adams has previously publicly claimed a lack of federal assistance on immigration, attracting praise from Republicans.
Social services in New York have struggled to provide for the increasing number of migrants who have arrived in the city since last year. Of the 110,000 migrants who have arrived, more than 50,000 remain in care of the city. Officials have said shelters and other resources are at capacity, with approximately 500 migrants arriving in New York each day.
New arrivals have struggled to find housing, amid record rent prices and ineligibility for rental assistance. Scores of asylum seekers were last month forced to sleep on the street in front of a Manhattan hotel, while waiting at a city-run intake center. Others have slept on the streets amid shelter overcrowding and security concerns.
Murad Awawdeh, the executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition, said Adams’s comments were “dangerous” to migrants in the city.
“The comments are uncalled for,” Awawdeh told the Guardian. “Using dangerous language sometimes leads to dangerous acts and we don’t want people put in that situation. So it’s important that leaders understand how to communicate [to] not put people’s lives on the line.
“It’s inciteful language and we’re already seeing people be triggered by this [type of] inciteful language. We don’t think the mayor of New York City should be dividing the city further in this moment.”
Awawdeh noted that “the real problem” facing New York was its lack of housing affordability and a shelter crisis that existed before asylum seekers arrived in such numbers. City leaders should focus on getting people into permanent housing, he said.
“Those are the real solutions here,” Awawdeh said. “It’s not necessarily going to a town hall and demonizing a vulnerable community.”