NYC Mayor Eric Adams’ Shifting Stance on Migrants: From Welcome to Crisis Warning
August 2022: A Warm Welcome In August 2022, New York City Mayor Eric Adams welcomed a bus full of asylum seekers sent from Texas, a move prompted by Texas Governor Gregg Abbot’s argument that progressive cities should share the burden of asylum seekers crossing the southern border. At that time, Mayor Adams expressed pride in being part of a “Right to Shelter” state and affirmed the city’s responsibility to provide services to these families.
Current Crisis: A Plea for Aid Fast forward a year, and Mayor Adams is singing a different tune. The city is grappling with a migrant crisis, with approximately 110,000 asylum seekers arriving since the Spring of 2022. Adams is now urgently seeking federal and state aid and has asked a judge to suspend the Right to Shelter policy, which guarantees a bed for anyone in need. This shift has raised concerns about the city’s capacity to accommodate the growing number of migrants.
Policy Changes and Room Shortages In May, Mayor Adams made significant changes to the 40-year-old Right to Shelter law, allowing the city to direct migrants to communal shelters instead of providing individual rooms. By July, the city was out of room, leading to the distribution of flyers at the US-Mexico border suggesting migrants consider other cities. This shift marks a departure from Adams’ earlier campaign promise to maintain New York City as a sanctuary city.
A Growing Crisis As the school year began, the city faced challenges as nearly 60,000 migrants were in its care, with around 21,000 new migrant children starting school. The crisis has been a persistent issue during Adams’ tenure as mayor, with the number of migrants arriving each month steadily increasing. Adams expressed his concerns, warning that this problem could ultimately destroy New York City.
Financial Strain Despite Mayor Adams’ pleas for help from the state and federal government, the city has not received adequate aid to cover the extra costs incurred by the crisis. The city is currently allocating $4.7 billion from its budget to address the issue, equivalent to the combined budgets of the sanitation, fire, and parks departments.
Migrants Continue to Arrive The arrival of buses full of migrants at Port Authority continues, with some estimates suggesting that as many as 10,000 hotel rooms have been designated for housing migrants in Manhattan. This influx has led to long lines of migrants, including many who never intended to come to New York but are now staying due to legal obligations.
Federal Response The U.S. Department of Homeland Security dispatched a small team to New York City to determine how the federal government should respond. While the federal government promised the city $140 million in aid, the funds have yet to be received, possibly due to bureaucratic delays.
A Wider Issue New York City’s struggle with housing asylum seekers is not unique, as several major metropolitan areas have also faced similar challenges. The crisis is exacerbated by the end of Title 42, a pandemic-era border policy that allowed officials to detain people, leading to a surge in illegal border crossings.
Mayor Eric Adams’ shifting stance on migrants—from a warm welcome to a dire warning—reflects the complex and evolving nature of the migrant crisis in the city and beyond.