Borelli, House Republicans wield Mayor Adams’ migrant comments to attack President Biden

City Council Minority Leader Joe Borelli (center) being sworn in before delivering testimony to the House Committee on Homeland Security. Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2023.
Photo courtesy of Council Member Joe Borelli’s X Account

Republican City Council Minority Leader Joe Borelli kicked off his testimony at a House Homeland Security Committee hearing on the migrant crisis Wednesday by quoting the Democratic mayor of New York City.

“Let me start with a blunt quote: ‘The migrant crisis will destroy New York City.’ Those aren’t my words. They aren’t the words of extreme MAGA members or right-wing hyperbole. Those are the words spoken by Democratic New York City Mayor Eric Adams,” Borelli said during a Sept. 20 hearing in Washington D.C. examining the financial costs of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro “Mayorkas’ open border.”

Adams made the comments Borelli quoted two weeks ago at a town hall event on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The remarks appeared to be an attempt at illustrating how the city would buckle under the ever-increasing cost of accommodating tens of thousands of migrants in perpetuity — in the absence of more substantial support from Washington.

Borelli — who represents part of Staten Island — went on to say he agrees with the mayor’s sentiments, when asked about the financial impact of the crisis, which the Adams administration estimates will cost $12 billion over the next two years. The council minority leader also pointed to 15% spending cuts Adams recently ordered, purportedly to deal with a coming budget deficit inflicted by massive spending on migrants.

“I think it has the potential to really diminish New York City’s long term financial future,” Borelli said. “I think it’s a major problem. I wouldn’t bet against us, New York has come back before, I just don’t know whether it’ll be in my generation or perhaps the next generation.”

Mayor Eric Adams speaks about migrant crisis at Manhattan town hall
Mayor Eric Adams at a town hall event on the Upper West Side. Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2023.Photo Credit: Benny Polatseck/Mayoral Photography Office

Throughout the hearing, Borelli and Republican Congress members on the committee used the mayor’s remarks as a cudgel to attack President Joe Biden and bolster their arguments that immigration over the U.S.’s southern border with Mexico is out of control and it must be cracked down upon.

Borelli has been a vocal critic of the administration’s approach to managing the crisis — he was one of several plaintiffs in a suit seeking to block the city from building a mega-shelter at Brooklyn’s Floyd Bennett Field on Tuesday. But he went on to note that he has found common ground with Adams on their mutual criticisms of President Biden’s approach to immigration.

“Though Mayor Adams and I disagree on many things, including how the city has managed the massive influx of migrants to our city, I’ll give him credit for being the virtually only elected official in his own party to say out loud, repeatedly and in public, that the open border policies of this White House, Secretary Mayorkas and the federal agencies under their control have been an absolute disaster for New York,” he said.

New York has seen the arrival of over 113,000 mostly Latin American migrants since spring 2022. Just shy of 60,000 of those newcomers are currently in the city’s care.

Borelli was hardly the only Republican to call back to Adams’ incendiary comments throughout the hearing. GOP Congress Member Mark Green of Tennessee, who chairs the Homeland Security Committee, made reference to Adams’ declaration early in his opening statements.

“Mayor Eric Adams even recently predicted that this border crisis will ‘destroy New York City,’ claiming with 10,000 illegal aliens coming every month, every service in the city will be impacted,” Green said.

Green’s GOP colleague, Congress Member Michael Guest of Mississippi, even played a video clip from the town hall where Adams spelled the city’s doom.

Adams spokesperson Charles Lutvak responded, in an emailed statement, by emphasizing the mayor has “repeatedly” blamed “Trump Republicans” for blocking comprehensive immigration reform and standing in the way of granting migrants working papers.

“Like New Yorkers, we won’t let today’s side show distract from Washington’s inaction,” Lutvak said. “New York City has largely managed this humanitarian crisis on its own for more than a year, and it’s long past time for Republicans in Congress to show national leadership on this national issue with much-needed funding, expedited work permits so asylum seekers can provide for themselves, and comprehensive immigration reform that has stalled for decades.”

However, progressives blasted the mayor for the GOP’s utilization of his comments Wednesday, charging he gave the party ammunition against Biden and Democratic candidates in next year’s election.

One of those detractors is state Senator Jessica Ramos (D-Queens), a frequent Adams critic who is widely thought to potentially challenge him in the 2025 mayoral Democratic primary.

“I think it’s a shame that the mayor has given them free talking points that completely distract from the actual task at hand,” Ramos told amNewYork Metro in an interview. 

“Immigration is a federal issue … but ultimately, here at home locally, I think we have to be of the mindset that since we can’t change immigration policy, we shouldn’t waste time on whether they should be here or shouldn’t be here. They are here,” she added, referring to the migrants. “And we have to figure this out. It’s not enough to just throw your hands up in the air and blame everybody else.”

Left-wing political strategist Bill Neidhardt, another consistent Adams detractor, took to the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, to declare that Adams’ comments only served to further wreck his relationship with Biden, rather than help him secure more federal assistance.

“It’s remarkable how poorly Adams has played his hand,” Neidhardt wrote. “He needed help securing funding and work permits. But instead of tapping into Democratic support in DC, he gifted the House GOP new talking points and alienated the man who can help him most, President Biden. Well played!”