Gov. Kathy Hochul on Monday announced she’s deploying another 150 National Guard troops to New York City to aid with the tide of migrants continuing to overwhelm the Adams administration, while defending her office’s efforts to handle the influx.
The additional troops, Hochul said, will bring the total number of National Guard members assisting the city with its migrant response to 2,200. Along with the latest deployment of National Guard personnel, Hochul is directing 250 of those troops to solely assist with casework for newcomers — helping them complete the necessary paperwork to attain legal work status and move out of city shelters.
Their work will include helping Venezuelan migrants apply for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), which President Biden extended and re-designated for nearly 500,000 Venezuelans already in the United States last week.
“So, you’ll be helping them get a job, helping them support themselves, helping them leave these shelters, because I believe they did not come all these thousands of miles to live in a shelter with hundreds, if not thousands, of others,” Hochul told National Guard troops during a news conference at the 369th Regiment Armory in Harlem Monday afternoon.
Part of the effort, Hochul said, is to identify which migrants are already eligible for work authorization based on the way they came into the country.
Prior to the newest deployment, the troops mainly served to provide logistical and operational support at city shelters, according to the governor’s office.
State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jackie Bray said the state is trying to both stem the flow of migrants into city shelters and speed up the rate of those exiting the facilities. While the additional National Guard troops are not a “silver bullet” to solving the crisis, she said, they will be assisting with a critical step in getting there.
“There is no silver bullet, we’ve got to do every step of this process and the National Guard is taking … the mission of helping people exit shelter and helping people exit shelter faster,” Bray said.
Adams’ office thanked Hochul for the sending more National Guard members in an emailed statement.
“We appreciate Governor Hochul deploying an additional 150 National Guards to bolster casework efforts, and help asylum seekers take the next steps in their journeys,” Adams spokesperson Amaris Cockfield said. “With over 60,000 asylum seekers still in our care, it will take all levels of government to get people on the path to building stable, self-sufficient lives.”
‘We said we’d help’
Hochul — who has been accused by Mayor Eric Adams and many New York City pols and advocates of not doing enough to help the city — also sought to defend her administration’s management of the influx.
The governor listed several actions her office has taken to support the Big Apple’s case management efforts, including $50 million distributed across the city’s public hospital corporation and local nonprofits. She also highlighted $1.7 billion she’s given the city to cover migrant housing costs along with several large-scale shelters completely funded by the state — such as a facility that the Creedmoor Psychiatric Center in eastern Queens and another soon to open at Brooklyn’s Floyd Bennett Field.
“We said we’d be partners, we said we’d help,” Hochul said. “It’s money. It’s facilities, locations. We’ve cleaned up many, fixed them up, got them ready. And it’s also the personnel.”
When it comes to President Biden’s handling of the migrant crisis, Hochul defended the commander-in-chief, which stands in sharp contrast to the mayor publicly excoriating the president on multiple occasions for not providing the city with enough funding and resources. She instead placed blame on the Republican-controlled House of representatives for refusing to enact comprehensive immigration reform.
“We would like more money of course, but [the president] can’t just write a check for it, he has to get the money through Congress,” she said.
Praise for White House
The governor also praised the president’s senior advisor Tom Perez, who has been the state and city’s main point of contact in the White House on the migrant issue, for “exceptional” communication.
She insisted the federal government has stepped up recently by extending and re-designating TPS as well as authorizing the use of Floyd Bennett and sending 50 Department of Homeland Security personnel to help the city identify migrants who are eligible for working papers.
“We’re going to continue asking for more venues, more money, more people on the ground,” she said. “But there are people on the ground now that weren’t there before. So, I have to recognize there has been a major shift of prioritizing this because the scale has gotten so large.”
As the mayor has turned up his public pressure on Biden, Hochul has mostly stayed away from criticizing the president. She met with Biden at an event in the city last week not even 24 hours before the White House extended TPS for Venezuelans.
In contrast, the mayor did not meet with the president at all during his three-day jaunt to the five boroughs. Although Adams thanked Biden for granting TPS to Venezuelans during a Sunday interview ABC7 New York, he noted that only around 15,000 migrants will be able to apply for TPS, leaving many more who still need assistance in obtaining work permits.
“We just want to say thanks the president for hearing us and moving this forward,” Adams said on Sunday. “But we want to be clear: we cannot spike the ball, because this is not going to deal with all of the migrants and asylum seekers who are in this city. We have about 60,000 in our care, 10,000 a month, and many of those new arrivals won’t be able to apply for the TPS and for the other benefits of this initiative.”