Mayor Eric Adams applauded President Biden’s call for the Republican-controlled Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform in his State of the Union speech Tuesday night, while repeating his plea for a “national solution” to the scores of asylum seekers who’ve flooded into some of the nation’s largest cities — including New York — over the past year.
But Biden’s 70-minute address devoted very little time to outlining a strategy for better handling the flow of mostly Latin American migrants over the southern border, besides his call for House Republicans to help him pass “comprehensive immigration reform.” He did also call on the GOP for more funding for border agents and to provide a path to citizenship for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients — also known as Dreamers, farm workers and others here on a temporary basis.
“American border problems won’t be fixed until Congress acts,” Biden said. “If we don’t pass my comprehensive immigration reform, at least pass my plan to provide the equipment and officers to secure the border. And a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, those on temporary status, farm workers, essential workers.”
Biden’s speech also didn’t contain any mention of a so-called “decompression strategy” to alleviate the number of migrants showing up in New York City on a daily basis, which the mayor has been calling for since last October.
Yet, in a statement released shortly after Biden’s address, which Adams attended in-person as a guest of Congress Member Adriano Espaillat (D-Manhattan, Bronx), the mayor refrained from calling out the president for not mentioning a decompression strategy or promising more federal funds for cities that have born the brunt of the influx.
Instead, he echoed Biden’s call for the Congressional Republicans to come up with a fix, while making it clear he feels Democrats in Congress aren’t to blame for the lack of a clear plan.
“I agree with the president that we need Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform, something that democrats like U.S. Senate Majority Leader [Chuck] Schumer, U.S. House Democratic Leader [Hakeem] Jeffries, and the New York City congressional delegation have been trying to do for decades,” Adams said.
“As I’ve repeatedly said, the asylum seeker crisis is a national problem that needs a national solution, in the short-, medium-, and long-term,” he added. “New York and other cities across the country are struggling with this crisis. We need help and we need it now.”
Although Adams didn’t single out Biden or the executive branch in his request for additional support by name, his spokesperson Fabien Levy insisted to amNewYork Metro that “a national solution includes all our federal partners.”
The mayor’s recent comments follow months of him making public overtures for both Congress and the White House to send the city significant financial support to handle the influx of over 44,000 migrants into the five boroughs — the cost of which he now estimates could be as high as $4.2 billion.
The city, however, has gotten some help in the form of $8 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), $2 million from Schumer and will receive another $1 billion from the state. Plus, the city is due for some portion of the $800 million in federal relief funds for municipalities on the front lines of the crisis included in an omnibus spending bill passed by a then Democrat- controlled Congress late last year.
But Adams said he’s not too optimistic the House will chip in the dollars he’s seeking under Republican control.
“If we look at the history of a Republican controlled Congress, they don’t want to do comprehensive immigration reform,” Adams said at an unrelated press conference earlier Tuesday.
“We need to make sure that we have a foolproof plan to address this national issue and we don’t see the Help coming from a Republican controlled Congress,” he added.