Thirty-three local elected officials signed a letter to President Joe Biden Sunday, pleading with the White House for more funding to care for the thousands of Latin American asylum seekers pouring into the five boroughs as the Adams administration gets set to build a new emergency shelter for migrants at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal.
The electeds — including Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, City Comptroller Brad Lander, three Borough Presidents, and 28 City Councilmembers — pled for a “significant share” of the $800 million allocated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
“As in past generations, immigrants contribute mightily to the dynamism and economic fabric of both New York City and the United States. Your Administration must step up now to help,” said the pols, who represent all five boroughs in city government. “We urge you, Mr. President, to uphold the United States’ obligation to provide a safe haven for those seeking refuge, and we look forward to working with you to do so.”
The pols also called for the feds to expedite work authorizations to ensure the migrants can begin to become self-sufficient.
“Because those arriving here today are not legally able to work, they are denied the ability to provide for themselves and their families, increasing their need for shelter and services,” they wrote. “So many of the individuals who are currently in our shelter system are eager to work, and there are many employment opportunities in our city.”
Mayor Eric Adams gave praise to the electeds at a press conference on Sunday at City Hall.
“The migrants deserve better,” said Hizzoner. “This is a national problem and it needs a national response. And we are not going to sit back and deny that.”
More than 40,000 asylum seekers, mainly from Latin America, have arrived in New York City since last spring, with much of the first waves coming on buses sent by Republican governors of southern states; the city is sheltering 27,000 of those, the pols said, causing the city’s shelter population to swell by more than 40%.
Because the city has erected new emergency shelters, like the tent facility on Randalls Island and the new shelter at the Cruise Terminal, and repurposed existing buildings to house migrants, the cost to shelter the migrants has been 50% higher than average. All told, the city expects to spend $1 billion on services for migrants by the end of this fiscal year. The crisis has not only strained the budget of the city, but has had a significant impact on the finances of nonprofits ensuring the migrants have their needs met.
The new relief center at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal will house 1,000 male asylum seekers in “well-heated, well-run” indoor accommodations on dry land, according to the mayor.
The mayor said that the city is in talks with the feds on potentially using federally-owned sites within the city for shelter. The Cruise Terminal is owned by the Port Authority and leased to the city’s Economic Development Corporation.
Adams has taken the call for federal aid cross-country as he rallies other affected mayors to the cause. Last week he visited the southern border in El Paso, Texas, and a few days later he went to Washington where he met with various mayors and reps from the White House.