ALBANY — Gov. Kathy Hochul in a letter has chastised New York City Mayor Eric Adams' administration for its handling of the migrant influx, saying the city has failed to properly respond to the crisis and coordinate care for asylum-seekers.
The letter released Wednesday from Hochul’s attorneys comes as Hochul is facing increasing political fallout for migrants who have been bused from the city to sites around the state. In response, the city said that it would continue to work with the state as a partner in the crisis, but that migrants still must be sent to locations around the state.
The letter from Hochul’s attorneys emphasizes that caring for migrants is the city’s responsibility, but the Adams administration has missed opportunities provided by the state, including effectively spending some elements of $1.5 billion in state aid. The letter states the city has exacerbated the crisis by acts such as busing some migrants to Rochester without coordinating the trip with state or local officials.
The letter contradicts repeated public pronouncements by Hochul and Adams that they have created an effective working partnership to take on major problems and initiatives without assessing blame or deflecting political fallout, as was common in feuding by former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Mayor Bill DeBlasio.
“A lack of coordination from the city to date has impeded the state’s ability to foster productive relationships and discussions, including with the counties and localities that have offered to help,” stated the letter from Hochul’s attorneys. “Moreover, the city’s failure to inform the state of critical incidents that have occurred in shelters outside of the city has compounded these difficulties.”
The Adams administration portrayed the letter as encouragement that the state will “take a more proactive role in their response.”
“Because this is such a significant crisis, we need more, including more space around the state and a statewide order that bars localities from passing ordinances that prevent asylum-seekers from being relocated to other parts of New York State,” stated Deputy Mayor of Communications Fabien Levy. “Thousands of city employees and hundreds of volunteers and community-based organizations have performed miracles to offer food, shelter and care to the largest concentrated influx of asylum-seekers this city has ever seen, but while our compassion is limitless, our resources are not.
“This is a state and national crisis, and we need more of this kind of partnership from our state and national partners,” Levy stated. The city has spent more than $1.7 billion and expects to spend $5 billion this fiscal year “if we do not get the proper support,” Levy said. He said the city has provided shelter and services to more than 100,000 asylum-seekers.
Hochul’s letter criticizes the city for failing to efficiently use or account for spending of state aid, for failing to take advantage of offers such as the use of state land for temporary shelters or to request changes in state regulations to speed aid and resources. The letter also criticized the Adams administration for failing to act quickly on opportunities, including a chance to waive a federal requirement to allow the migrants to accept employment. Hochul has said allowing migrants to fill jobs in an labor shortage is a key to the migrant crisis.
“The city should have acted promptly, and by not acting promptly, it only delayed the 180-day waiting period for many migrants,” the letter stated. “It is likely that many more migrants would be able to work today if the city had prioritized this effort sooner.”
The letter says the state will continue to help the city, “but the city’s affirmative cooperation, coordination and communication with the state and other counties and localities is necessary.”
A Hochul spokesman, Avi Small, said Wednesday that the state has “deployed unprecedented resources to support the city’s efforts and will continue working closely with them to provide aid and support.”