Top Adams advisor blasts Hochul for allegedly treating migrant crisis as ‘NYC issue’ in private call

Ingrid Lewis-Martin, senior advisor to Mayor Eric Adams.
Photo Credit: Mayoral Photography Office

Governor Kathy Hochul “made it clear” in a public address Thursday that the migrant crisis is New York City’s issue and not the state’s, Mayor Eric Adams’ Chief Advisor Ingrid Lewis-Martin said on audio of a private conference call obtained by amNewYork Metro.

Lewis-Martin also urged those present on the call, one of many briefings City Hall leadership has held with city and state lawmakers on the migrant crisis, to push Hochul into taking more of an active role in assisting the five boroughs with the influx.

Adams’ office is taking issue with the governor’s address, where she called on President Biden to provide New York City and state with more migrant resources, because she explicitly declared she would not take executive action to force counties outside the city resistant to sheltering migrants to take them in. That move is necessary, Adams administration officials argue, because the city has run out of suitable space for housing tens of thousands of newcomers who have arrived here since last year.

“The Governor was on TV today and she made it clear, in her mind, this is a New York City issue,” Lewis-Martin said on the conference call. “She is not moving migrants upstate. That this is a state issue, ‘no.’ It’s a New York City issue, ‘yes.’ So, we need our city partners to work with us to pressure the governor into understanding that this is a statewide issue.”

“It would be good if you and others who feel the way you do would work together as a team to work and pressure the governor into understanding that she has to open up upstate and that she needs to call for a state of emergency,” she added, speaking to Brooklyn Council Member Mercedes Narcisse (D).

Many upstate counties where the Adams administration has attempted to send migrants have declared states of emergency and brought legal challenges to prevent local hotels from housing them.

Governor Kathy Hochul.Mike Groll/Office of Governor Kathy Hochul

During her address, Hochul argued the city’s right-to-shelter law — a mandate that the city must provide shelter to anyone seeking it — does not apply statewide. Therefore, she said she doesn’t have the legal authority to compel counties outside the city to shelter new arrivals.

“This is an agreement that does not apply to the state’s other 57 counties, which is one of the reasons we cannot and will not force other parts of our state to shelter migrants,” Hochul said during the address. “Nor are we going to be asking these migrants to move to other parts of the state against their will.”

In his own statement Thursday afternoon, the mayor forcefully pushed back on that assertion.

“Whatever differences we all may have about how to handle this crisis, we believe what is crystal clear is that whatever obligations apply under state law to the City of New York apply with equal force to every county across New York state,” Adams said.

During a later portion of the call, Lewis-Martin also defended the mayor’s management of the influx, while again pushing the lawmakers present to lobby Hochul more aggressively. Adams has faced a torrent of criticism from lawmakers and advocates for his handling of the influx at almost every turn. 

“This is a partnership, this is not [just] Mayor Adams,” she said. “This is Mayor Adams, the City council, New York State Assembly and New York State Senate. We need all hands on deck.”

Then Lewis-Martin began laying out specific instructions for how lawmakers on the call could push the governor to declare a state of emergency. Her comments came in response to Bronx Council Member Marjorie Velázquez (D) asking “what is the next step, action-wise, that we can go and ask for the governor to declare a state of emergency?”

While Lewis-Martin made it clear that the effort should not come from the mayor’s office, she laid out clear steps to take — including writing a letter and holding a news conference — and offered to provide lawmakers with talking points they could use. 

“You all need to convene and figure out who will take leadership,” Lewis-Martin said. “One of you needs to decide who will be the crafter of the letter to get all of your members to sign on. Do a press conference. Go to Albany. Advocate … People come to you on Tuesday and lobby. Lobby the governor the same way you get lobbied.”

“We can’t be the ones that’s driving it because then they’re gonna say it’s from the office of the mayor,” she added.