Adams defends saying the city can’t accommodate more migrants without help from feds

Mayor Eric Adams
Mayor Eric Adams.
Photo by Lloyd Mitchell

Amid news that New York City may well be receiving even more migrants, this time from Colorado’s Democratic Governor Jared Polis, Mayor Eric Adams on Wednesday defended his comments that the city has reached capacity on the number of asylum seekers it can accommodate, pushing back on the notion that they were “callous.”

The mayor was referring to a Tuesday radio interview where he said there’s “no more room at the inn,” meaning New York has had to accept over 30,000 migrants so far and doesn’t have the resources to shelter, feed, clothe and educate any more without federal aid. He said his remarks were sparked by learning on Monday that Polis was planning on sending buses of migrants from Colorado to New York and other cities including Chicago. 

Previously, Republican governors — like Greg Abbott of Texas — had sent the majority of buses with migrants to the Big Apple as a political stunt.

“At one time we had to deal with Republican governors sending migrants to New York, now we have to deal with Democratic governors sending migrants to New York. This is just unfair,” the mayor said during an unrelated press conference Wednesday morning.

“If anyone is stating, because I’m saying to the federal government, and everyone else, that ‘New York has done his share,’ that’s not callous,” Adams said. “What’s callous is how we have been ignored as a city. And now I have to make tough decisions on the resources of New Yorkers that cycled out of COVID.”

Migrants arrive at Port Authority bus terminal in August.Photo by Dean Moses

Adams pointed to the fact that the city has opened over 60 emergency shelters for migrants since the influx started last spring.

But Polis, in a report from Politico New York, gave a far different account of the situation. He said his state has been consistently helping asylum seeking migrants who’ve crossed the southern border, often after fleeing violence in South and Central America, reach their final destinations for several weeks. One of those destinations has been New York City.

Polis said the only difference now is that a major winter storm created a backlog by preventing many migrants from being able to travel from Denver to New York. That backlog is in the midst of being cleared, which will create a surge in buses arriving at the Port Authority for the next week or two.

The mayor has repeatedly called on the federal government to send significant financial assistance to the city for handling the crisis, which his office of Management and Budget projected last fall could cost the city at least $1 billion by the end of the fiscal year. 

It was reported last week that the city is due to receive close to $8 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), but that’s not even 1% of the projected cost of the crisis. The five boroughs will also likely get a large chunk of the $800 million allocated through an omnibus federal spending bill late last year to aid cities impacted by the migrant crisis.

During the news conference he also laid blame for the ongoing flow of migrants to the city squarely at the feet of Congress and the White House, but stopped short of going after President Joe Biden himself.

“We have to solve the migrant, immigrant, issue,” he said. “So, it’s easy to point to whoever is in the White House at the time. Those are band aids, we have a problem at our borders. And so, when I say the federal government, I’m talking about Congress and the executive branch, resolving this issue of our migrants.”