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Mayor Eric Adams declares state of emergency over migrant crisis, says NYC on track to spend $1 billion

CBS New York 10/8/2022 Alice Gainer

NEW YORK -- There's a state of emergency in New York City. 

Friday, Mayor Eric Adams issued an executive order as the number of asylum seekers bused to New York City continues to grow. Under that order, certain land use requirements would be suspended to expedite the process of creating humanitarian relief centers

But, as CBS2's Alice Gainer reports, the mayor says the city is doing more than its fair share, and that others should step in and step up. 

"Although our compassion is limitless, our resources are not," Adams said.

Construction is underway on a humanitarian emergency response and relief center at Randall's Island. It will be the first stop for asylum seekers bused to New York City where they will temporarily for a few days. They'll receive three hot meals a day with South American cuisine, a bed, access to iPhones and iPads to connect with family, and discuss where to go for permanent housing. 

"We're doing re-ticketing right now at Port Authority, but we only have 45 minutes to figure out where you might want to spend the next several years of your life," said Dr. Ted Long of New York City Health + Hospitals. 

Manuel Castro, commissioner of the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs says about a third of each bus that arrives are people who don't want to stay in New York. 

"A lot of people have family in Florida because that's where the majority of Venezuelans have settled over the last couple of years," Castro said. 

"This is a humanitarian crisis that started with violence and instability in South America being accelerated by American political dynamics," Adams said. 

The mayor says more than 17,000 asylum seekers have been bused here since April, with 42 emergency shelters constructed, and 5,500 children enrolled in school. 

"Stop sending buses to New York. New York cannot accommodate the numbers of buses we have coming to our city," Adams said. 

A spokesperson for Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said it has bused 3,100 migrants to New York City. New York City officials say that's false. The mayor says this is burning through the city's budget, and he expects $1 billion will be spent by the end of the fiscal year.

"This is unsustainable. The city is going to run out of funding for other priorities," Adams said. "Local government cannot be the solution for national crisis – especially manufactured crisis." 

Adams is asking the state and federal government to provide more aid. 

Watch Alice Gainer's report

NYC mayor declares state of emergency over influx of migrants 03:00 © Provided by CBS New York NYC mayor declares state of emergency over influx of migrants 03:00

"The only way to open up the spigot of FEMA dollars is for the governor and the president to declare New York City a state of emergency. That's just FEMA's policy," said New York City Council Republican Minority Leader Joe Borelli. "It still comes on the backs of the New York City taxpayers until the governor and the president act."

Borelli told CBS2's Dick Brennan the city is already facing a budget crisis.

"Adding billions of dollars on the backs of New Yorkers as they struggle to cut money elsewhere is a huge problem. I don't fault the mayor for throwing his hands up and being concerned about this," he said.

The city's shelter system is busting at the seams with more than 61,000 people - both asylum seekers and the homeless. The mayor says there are efforts to fast track long-term unhoused New Yorkers into permanent housing. That's long overdue, says the Legal Aid Society. 

"The fact that we are at a record high number of people in shelters is not just a result of recent migrants – it's a result of vast homelessness in New York City and the city failing to prioritize affordable housing for new Yorkers, and this has been going on for years," said Kathryn Kliff of the the Legal Aid Society. 

A program is in the works where New Yorkers themselves can host asylum seekers and the unhoused. 

We did not hear back from the White House. 

Gov. Kathy Hochul's office says it has provided transportation and other assistance and held calls with White House officials asking them to consider flexibility in the work permit rules for asylum seekers. 

New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams said once again Friday that the council had identified 10 large-scale hotels that appear to be closed and that the city could consider for relief centers. 

Those hotels are: 

  • Doubletree by Hilton Metropolitan (764 rooms)
  • Maxwell New York City (697 rooms)
  • NYC ESH Lexington (646 rooms)
  • Watson Hotel (597 rooms)
  • Hilton Hotel & Resort Times Square (478 rooms)
  • Hotel Wolcott (178 rooms)
  • Cassa Hotel New York (165 rooms)
  • Hotel Plaza Athenee (143 rooms)
  • Gregory Hotel New York (132 rooms)
  • Hotel Stanford (122 rooms) 

Those are in addition to over 40 hotels already being used.

Abbott, meanwhile, says he won't stop the caravan.

"What is an embarrassment is this:  it's the hypocrisy of the liberal elite in places like New York," he said on Aug. 11.

But Adams is fed up.

"New Yorkers are angry. I am angry, too," he said.

The latest migrant crisis is once again highlighting the need for a long-term solution.

"We are 40 years and change beyond our last comprehensive immigration reform in this country," Kean College Provost David Birdsell said. "It is very clear that we need urgently to deal with this and in a truly comprehensive way."

The mayor says as the city seeks hotels to use as shelters, council members and local elected officials are saying, "House people, but not in my district." The mayor says they can't have it both ways.

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