(The Center Square) — New York City Mayor Eric Adams is creating a new agency to help deal with a massive influx of asylum-seekers that has overwhelmed the city’s resources.
- By Christian Wade | The Center Square contributor
- March 8th, 2023
The plan is outlined in Adam’s new “blueprint” for dealing with the asylum seeker crisis, which also calls for establishing a new 24-hour migrant center to provide guidance for new arrivals.
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“Over the past year, New York City has faced an unprecedented humanitarian crisis caused by global forces beyond our control,” Adams said in a statement outlining the changes. “We have moved mountains to help the tens of thousands who arrived as our shelter population has increased at a dramatic rate.”
More than 50,000 migrants have traveled to New York City in the past year, which Adams said is affecting the city’s ability to provide basic services. The city has set up temporary “humanitarian” relief centers, including one at a Brooklyn cruise ship terminal, providing housing for more than 30,000 asylum seekers.
Under the new plan, the Office of Asylum Seeker Operations will coordinate the city’s response to asylum seekers “who need temporary shelter food, and other basic necessities.”
The city will also set up a new centralized “24/7 Arrival Center” that will replace the New York City Port Authority bus terminal as a primary destination for asylum seekers.
Adams’ plan also calls for the city to help connect asylum seekers with long-term housing, job authorization and legal services.
In a message to New Yorkers, Adams said the plan is “a clear-eyed look at what will be needed in the coming months and years, along with plans to provide shelter, health care, education, legal assistance and more to our brothers and sisters in crisis.”
“Above all, it is a call for national action in the face of a global humanitarian crisis,” Adams wrote.
Adams said New York City won’t be able to tackle the problem on its own, and that more funding from the state and federal governments will be required.
The report estimates the city will spend more than $4 billion to provide housing healthcare, another assistance for migrants over the next two fiscal years. The city is expected to get about $1.8 billion from the state and federal government to help deal with the migrant crisis.
As of March 2023, there were 79,937 people in shelters in New York City, including humanitarian relief centers — a 77% increase from a year ago, the report’s authors said.
“Our shelter system is full, and we are running out of funds, staff, and space,” they wrote. “Without additional support, we may not be able to continue supporting recent arrivals along with our preexisting shelter population. We may also have to cut back on city programs and services.”
Adams has taken his case to Washington, calling for congressional funding and a “national response” to the crisis in a recent speech to the U.S. Conference of Mayors. He also went to the southern border to see the scope of the problem first hand.
Murad Awawdeh, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition, called the plan an “important starting point,” but said overall the blueprint was “vague” and suggested it would only benefit a “very small percentage” of new arrivals.
Awawdeh said the plan also lacks details about additional funding to help migrants navigate a “complicated” immigration system.
“Without the increased resources, it’s unclear how the administration is going to meet the legal needs of asylum seekers,” she said. “Moreover, the newly released report has no details on how the administration plans to move our unhoused neighbors including asylum seekers to more permanent housing, especially since the temporary shelters built for asylum seekers are clearly inadequate.”
New York City’s plan comes as President Joe Biden considers whether to reinstitute a Trump-era policy to detain undocumented families that enter the U.S. illegally amid an unprecedented surge of migrants along the U.S.-Mexico border.