Mayor Eric Adams on Wednesday expressed confidence that Gov. Kathy Hochul will give the Big Apple sufficient help with managing the migrant crisis in 2024, on the heels of the governor barely mentioning the influx in her State of the State address this week.
During the hour-long Tuesday speech, where the governor laid out her policy agenda for the coming year, she only once mentioned the migrant influx, which has seen over 160,000 newcomers flow into the five boroughs over nearly two years. She only brought up the crisis to note that she would detail how she plans to address it during her executive budget rollout next week.
The 181 policy book that accompanied the governor’s speech did not include any initiatives to manage the crisis, which has consumed much of the mayor’s attention and placed tremendous strain on the city’s finances. Migrants were only mentioned in Hochul’s policy book when describing a program designed to help foreign student entrepreneurs launch startup businesses — an effort that appeared unconnected to the crisis.
Instead her speech and policy platform focused on issues like combating retail theft, closing unlicensed cannabis shops and boosting housing production.
Yet, the mayor said his team has been having “great conversations” with the governor’s about migrant aid, when discussing the topic on the Capitol Press Room radio show Jan. 10.
“We’ve had some great conversations with her and I’m looking forward to a budget announcement,” Adams said.
When asked what specific amount of state dollars Adams wants Hochul to commit in her spending plan, he declined to give a figure. Instead, he said the details are being hashed out by his budget director Jacques Jiha and the governor’s budget team.
“I’m going to let them handle that,” Adams said. “I don’t want to do anything to interfere with those negotiations. And he knows the exact dollar amounts we need. We’re going to present that to the governor’s people.”
Jiha’s office has estimated providing shelter and other services to new arrivals could cost the city as much as $10 billion by next summer, with the city having already spent $3.5 billion on the influx. The massive projected price tag is in large part due to the city having to take care of a seemingly endless stream of migrants without significant help from the federal and state governments.
However, Adams defended Hochul, saying she has provided a great deal of support thus far in the form of over $1 billion in reimbursements for shelter costs and funding the opening of three massive shelters in the city.
“We should be clear, she has been a partner. She has been to our national leaders, including the White House. She has assisted in opening the Humanitarian Relief Centers on Randall’s Island, at [the] Creedmoor facility, as well as out at Floyd Bennett Field. And she has allocated over $1 billion to this issue,” he said, referring to the three mega-shelters Hochul has helped stand up.
But while the mayor seemed unbothered by Hochul’s lack of attention to the migrant influx in her address, other pols and advocates had a far different reaction. Murad Awawdeh, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition, said immigrants’ issues were “nowhere to be found” in Hochul’s speech.
“Governor Hochul shared a long list of challenges that New Yorkers face in accessing housing, education, and healthcare – but her list of solutions were short and excluded the specific needs of immigrant New Yorkers,” Awawdeh said. “We must make investments in legal services, tax credits for working families, and housing vouchers, while ensuring language accessibility for newer initiatives.”