New York City Mayor Eric Adams appears at a news conference...

New York City Mayor Eric Adams appears at a news conference in the Bronx last month.

Credit: Office of Governor Kathy Hochul / Darren McGee

Mayor Eric Adams declared that the migrant crisis "will destroy New York City," just as 20,000 newly arrived children were preparing for their first day of class.

During a community meeting Wednesday night on the Upper West Side, a visibly frustrated Adams said 110,000 asylum-seekers have come through the city since April 2022 and nearly 60,000 are living in government shelters.

"Never in my life have I had a problem that I did not see an ending to," the mayor said. "I don't see an ending to this … This issue will destroy New York City."

The city, Adams said, is getting 10,000 migrants each month from Venezuela, Ecuador, Mexico and as far as West Africa, blowing a $12 billion deficit in the city's budget. Every service provided by the city, he said, will have to be cut to pay for the migrant costs.

"All of us are going to be impacted by this," Adams said. "I said it last year when we had 15,000 and I'm telling you now with 110,000. The city we knew, we're about to lose, and we are all in this together."

Adams has sought mostly unsuccessfully to move migrants to places outside of the city, including to Nassau and Suffolk counties. Dozens of municipalities, including some on Long Island, have passed emergency orders barring the city from relocating migrants into those jurisdictions.

"Staten Island is saying send them out to Manhattan," he said. "Manhattan is saying send them out to Queens; Queens is saying send them out to Brooklyn."

In a joint statement, the Legal Aid Society and the Coalition for the Homeless decried Adams' comments as "reckless and unproductive fearmongering. His dystopian comments dehumanize and villainize people who fled unimaginable situations in their home countries merely for an opportunity to provide for their families and secure a better life."

Several major U.S. cities have struggled with an influx of many thousands of asylum-seekers who have filled up homeless shelters after entering the country.

New York City’s shelter system has been especially overwhelmed, but Adams has sought to reassure parents and community groups that the city’s nearly 1,900 schools — which have a long track record of welcoming immigrants with limited English skills — were well prepared to welcome migrant children into classrooms. The first day of class for city school children was Thursday.

The city schools system has around 3,400 teachers licensed to teach English as a second language and more than 1,700 certified bilingual teachers fluent in Spanish, the language spoken by the majority of migrant families, according to Education Chancellor David C. Banks. Some schools expected to get a higher share of students living in shelters are getting more funding, with $110 million allocated for immediate needs.

Illegal border crossings fell sharply after the Biden administration introduced new restrictions in May. But the numbers are again rising — pushed higher this time by families with children.

According to preliminary data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, August was the busiest month ever for apprehensions of migrant families crossing the border with children from Mexico.

Families with children now account for about half of arrests of people crossing the border illegally from Mexico, with more than 91,000 arrests in August, according to a U.S. official who was not authorized to discuss numbers and spoke on condition of anonymity.

That is dramatically up from the 60,161 arrests in July and 39,305 in June. The August tally surpassed the previous high of 84,486 in May 2019. Overall, arrests from illegal crossings from Mexico topped 177,000 in August, the official said, up from 132,652 in July and 99,539 in June.

With AP

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