Adams pleads for emergency aid from New York State

Mayor Eric Adams.
Mayor Eric Adams.
Office of the Mayor of New York City

New York City Mayor Eric Adams has submitted an emergency mutual aid request to New York State for immediate help to shelter what he describes as “massive influx” of arriving Caribbean and other asylum seekers.

Many of the asylum seekers include Haitian, Cubans and Venezuelans.

“Three months ago, I spoke directly to New Yorkers about the crisis of asylum seekers that has driven our shelter system to record levels and strained our city. On that day, I said we would surpass the highest number of people in recorded history in our city’s shelter system and that every day after we would set a new record,” said Adams in a statement.

“We are now seeing more people arrive than we have ever seen — averaging over 400 people each day this last week, with 835 asylum seekers arriving on one single day alone, the largest single day arrival we’ve seen to date,” he added. “All this is pushing New York City to the brink.”

The mayor said that, since last spring, New York City has stepped up to welcome about 40,000 asylum seekers, providing them with shelter, food and connections to a host of resources.

He said the city has opened 74 emergency shelters and four humanitarian relief centers at “breakneck speed, and done this almost entirely on our own.”

“We are at our breaking point,” Adams declared. “Based off our projections, we anticipate being unable to continue sheltering arriving asylum seekers on our own and have submitted an emergency mutual aid request to the State of New York beginning this weekend.

“This type of request, reserved only for dire emergencies, asks the state for support to shelter arriving asylum seekers as the city faces an immediate need for additional capacity,” he added.

Adams said the city’s initial request is for shelter to accommodate 500 asylum seekers, “but, as New York City continues to see numbers balloon, this estimate will increase as well.”

The mayor said the absence of “sorely needed” federal immigration reform “should not mean that this humanitarian crisis falls only on the shoulders of cities.

“We need support and aid from our federal and state partners, and look forward to working together to meet this crisis head-on,” he said.

Over the weekend, the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), an umbrella policy and advocacy organization that represents over 200 immigrant and refugee rights groups throughout New York, urged Adams to “stop scapegoating” Caribbean and other asylum seekers and include immigrant New Yorkers in his Fiscal Year 2024 Budget.

NYIC Executive Director Murad Awawdeh noted that Mayor Adams on Thursday released the city’s preliminary budget for fiscal year 2024 with “relatively little investment” made to support Caribbean and other immigrant New Yorkers to “fully integrate and thrive in New York City.”

Awawdeh told Caribbean Life that the Adams administration “continued to place blame for the city’s budget woes on the estimated 40,000 asylum seekers who have arrived in New York City since last spring.

“We are shocked to see immigrants and asylum seekers excluded from Mayor Adam’s vision for New York City, especially after he espoused for much of last year that the city will always be welcoming to immigrants,” he said. “Instead, Mayor Adams has released a budget that delivers the bare minimum to low-income families, and does little to ensure our newest arrivals are able to fully integrate and thrive.

“To rebuild our economy and invest in the future of our young people, the mayor along with the New York City Council must include funding and services for all immigrants and New Yorkers, including recent arrivals and asylum seekers in the final budget,” Awawdeh added.

He said this includes fully investing in the English Language Learner (ELL) Transfer Schools Program, which provides bilingual social workers, robust training for school-based staff, and community-based wrap-around support for older newcomer youth, “many of whom have endured unimaginable trauma during their journeys to New York.”

Awawdeh said New York City must also prioritize the hiring of additional social workers in the public school system, at competitive rates, to support the needs of every New York student, and give them a fighting chance to fully recover from the hardships of the last two years.

“Scapegoating immigrants for the austerity measures in his budget is shameful and inaccurate, given that our most recent arrivals account for less than 1 percent of New York City’s US$103 billion budget, according to the mayor’s own math,” he said. “There is no doubt that our state and federal governments bear some responsibility in helping the city provide for our newest arrivals, and we add our voices to the mayor’s call for greater support from them.

“However, the mayor cannot shirk responsibility for his budget choices and management of the situation,” Awawdeh added. “By excluding our newest neighbors from his budget, he just told tens of thousands of immigrant New Yorkers that they don’t matter.

“Is that really what he intended to say with this budget?” he asked. “We call on the mayor, Speaker (Adrienne) Adams and the NYC Council to account for newcomer asylum seekers, while supporting and restoring programs that support them and all New Yorkers.”