NYC city council holds special session after migrants arrive from Texas buses

Abbott said New York is the "ideal destination" for the migrants.

August 9, 2022, 4:52 PM

The New York City Council held a special hearing on Tuesday after buses of asylum seekers recently arrived in the city after being sent by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

The hearing focused on the conditions of the city's homeless shelters and how it can deal with the influx of asylum seekers, who have strained many of city's systems and services.

"What is new now, is the systematic diversion of asylum seekers and immigrants to New York City by external forces, including by the disgusting, cruel and cowardly actions of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott," Immigration Commissioner Manuel Castro told the city council on Tuesday.

Adrienne Adams, chair of the Committee on General Welfare, said there needs to be more transparency and accountability to better serve incoming migrants.

"While there may be a rise in those seeking asylum in New York City, this does not mean they are to blame for issues that have historically plagued our system," Adrienne Adams said at the hearing.

PHOTO: Possessions brought along for the last leg of the journey in New York on Aug. 5, 2022.
Possessions brought along for the last leg of the journey in New York on Aug. 5, 2022. Gov. Greg Abbott chartered a bus to send a group of migrants to New York, where Mayor Eric Adams said asylum seekers were overwhelming the city's homeless shelters.
Sara Naomi Lewkowicz/The New York Times via Redux

According to New York City's Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs, 68 asylum seekers arrived from Texas between Friday and Sunday.

Another bus is set to arrive Tuesday, with three more expected Wednesday, according to the council.

There is currently a 1% vacancy rate in the city's shelter system, and 11 emergency hotel rooms are expected to be opened to handle the influx, city officials said.

"Our goal is to immediately find out each family's needs and give them the assistance they want,” Mayor Adams said at a press conference on Tuesday.

Mayor Adams said some migrants have relatives in other cities and therefore want help leaving New York.

Mayor Adams added that he has asked for federal funding to support the influx of migrants.

The buses arrived in New York after Abbott said in a statement on Friday he was taking "unprecedented action to keep our communities safe."

Abbott said New York is the "ideal destination" for the migrants, as they can find the "abundance of city services and housing that Mayor Eric Adams has boasted about within the sanctuary city."

Abbott added that he hopes Mayor Adams follows through on "his promise of welcoming all migrants with open arms so that our overrun and overwhelmed border towns can find relief."

Adams said in Tuesday's press conference that what Abbott has done is "unbelievable."

Mayor Adams said the city will not turn the incoming migrants away, even if it strains the system there.

PHOTO: New York City Mayor Eric Adams speaks to the issue of asylum seekers sent from Texas to New York during a press conference held in Flushing Meadows Corona Park in the Queens borough of New York City, N.Y., Aug. 8, 2022.
With the Unisphere from the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair in the background, New York City Mayor Eric Adams speaks to the issue of asylum seekers sent from Texas to New York during a press conference held in Flushing Meadows Corona Park in the Queens borough of New York City, N.Y., Aug. 8, 2022.
Anthony Behar/Sipa USA via AP

Mayor Adams said in a June 21 press conference that the state's "right to shelter" law means that the city will find more spaces, whether that means acquiring hotel rooms or finding other spaces in the area.

"There's no such thing as the state saying we're turning you away," he said.

However, even prior to the buses arriving in New York, the city reported that at least four families did not receive lawful care under the city's legislature.

Commissioner of the Dept. of Social Services, Gary Jenkins, said on June 21 that the city failed to find shelter for at least four families, with several more reported to have slept in a Bronx intake center while they awaited care.

Officials said Texas authorities have not coordinated with New York officials, meaning that officials are not aware of when buses will be arriving, or how many individuals will be on the buses.

"They're not letting us know what are the needs of the people on the bus. They're not giving us any information, so we're unable to really provide service to the people en route," Mayor Adams told ABC affiliate WABC.

The New York City Council's Committee on General Welfare's report has found that charity representatives are also dealing with the influx of migrants.

According to the report, a 20-year employee of Catholic Charities immigration services said he had "never seen a situation like the one today," and said the move was "a forcible transfer of people from the U.S. - Mexico border to the city … disregarding their needs, preferences and plans."

Commissioner Jenkins announced a Declaration of Emergency for Asylum Services and Shelter on Aug. 1 in order to gain more resources to address the crisis.

Since then, the expectation of incoming migrants from Texas has increased worries about the resources that the city has to offer them, officials said.

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