Mayor Eric Adams on Friday declared a state of emergency to cope with the influx of asylum-seeking migrants being bused into New York City, mainly by Republican governors of border states, that has pushed the homeless-shelter system to the brink.
Adams' emergency order loosens regulations to speed the construction of tents being erected on Randalls Island — in the Harlem River, between the Bronx, Queens and Manhattan — to temporarily house the migrants. More than 17,000 have arrived in the city aboard hundreds of buses since the spring.
"Hundreds of buses have arrived in New York City. Since early September, we have seen an average of five to six buses per day," he said Friday. "Yesterday, at least nine buses arrived."
He projected that the city would need to spend more than $1 billion — and that the city's homeless shelter head count, now at about 61,000, is on track to be the highest on record: over 100,000 in the coming year.
Cautioning that the cost to provide services to the migrants is putting other priorities in the municipal budget in jeopardy, Adams, a Democrat, said he wants the federal and state governments to help pay.
"As I have said before, we need help. And we need it now," he said.
Adams says he wants migrants arriving in the United States to be sent across the country, not just to cities such as New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C.
“New Yorkers are angry,” Adams said. “I am angry, too.”
“We have not asked for this. There was never any agreement to take on the job of supporting thousands of asylum-seekers. This responsibility was simply handed to us without warning as buses began showing up. There is no playbook for this, no precedent,” he said.
Governors in border states such as Texas have been busing migrants, primarily from Latin American countries, to Democratic-run cities to protest President Joe Biden's border policies. The city has explored contracting with cruise ships and summer camps.
Adams said the city has opened 42 hotels as emergency shelters, enrolled over 5,500 children in the public schools and taken other steps to help the migrants, such as discounted MetroCards to ride mass transit.
"We're doing everything we can," he said, adding: "but it's still not enough."
A third of the migrants are children.
On Twitter, the city’s public advocate, Jumaane Williams, cited a tweet by one of the governors sending the migrants, Greg Abbott of Texas.
Abbott's tweet said: "Texas will continue busing migrants to help our overrun & overwhelmed border communities. #OperationLoneStar"
Williams tweeted: “Imagine if @GovAbbott used his obstinance to work together on a push for real and humane assistance on a national level instead these otherizing tactics. That would require him to view asylum seekers as human beings who need help and not political dehumanized pawns.”
Under a 1981 legal settlement, the city must provide shelter to anyone who seeks it.
Asked whether the city's migrant policies incentivizes migrants to come to the United States in general and New York in particular, Adams said no.
"We have a legal and moral responsibility to help those who come here to the city. I don't think it incentivizes people to come here. What incentivizes them to come here is, when the Border Patrol, and those down at the border, has a list of 'New York, Washington, and Chicago,'" Adams said.
He added that the services provided in New York — including a Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Center and a city-issued ID card — don't play a role in drawing immigrants to make the trip.
"I doubt very much that migrant seekers, when they come here, they know that, hey, you could go to New York, and you can get to a HERRC, or you could go to New York and get a municipal identification card. They don't know that. When they come here, we provide them the services."