New York Mayor Eric Adams is heading to Latin America on an international tour to tell migrants the city is “at capacity” as a huge wave of asylum seekers overwhelms social services and the shelter system.
Adams, a Democrat, will meet with officials in Mexico, Ecuador and Colombia during a four-day trip starting Wednesday.
New York has absorbed nearly 120,000 migrants in the past year, with about 800 still arriving daily in search of housing and work, forcing officials to consider plans for additional shelters.
“We are at full capacity,” Adams told reporters on Tuesday. “We’re going to tell them that coming to New York doesn’t mean you’re going to stay in a five-star hotel. It doesn’t mean that just because you come here you’re automatically allowed to work.’
While details were scarce, officials said they were looking at opening additional shelters to accommodate the influx, adding to the more than 200 emergency shelters already open, including 17 large-scale humanitarian aid centers.
Scroll down for video.
“We are at maximum capacity,” Adams said Tuesday as he announced a Latin American trip. “We’re going to tell them that coming to New York doesn’t mean staying in a five-star hotel.”
Asylum seekers line up in front of the historic Roosevelt Hotel, converted into a city-run processing center, on September 27
Lisa Zornberg, City Hall’s lead attorney, said plans to build a massive new shelter facility at Brooklyn’s defunct Floyd Bennet Field airport are proceeding “operationally,” despite a legal challenge now moving through the courts.
“I can’t believe we’re still in this situation where we’re talking about how many more sites we want to open. 118,000 people came to New York City. This is a national crisis and an international one,” said Anne Williams-Isom, New York City Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services.
“This is a national and an international crisis,” she added. “We really need a decompression strategy so that we can send people coming over to other parts of the United States.”
Williams-Isom said migrant arrivals in the city have recently reached 600 to 800 persons per day, doubling the previous figure of about 10,000 per month.
She added that the Roosevelt Hotel, which the city uses as a 24/7 reception and processing center for migrants, currently has 412 people waiting for shelter.
“You’ll continue to see lines outside the Roosevelt. New Yorkers should prepare for lines to form in the coming weeks and months as there is another surge at the border,” Williams-Isom said.
Migrants streaming into NYC line up to enter Federal Plaza to file with immigration authorities on Monday
The line of migrants formed across the street from 60 Center Street, where the civil fraud trial of Donald Trump is taking place
People sleep on the sidewalk outside the Roosevelt Hotel in August. Officials said Tuesday that the Roosevelt currently has 412 people waiting for shelter
Adams has made a series of urgent pleas for a change in federal immigration policy and funding to help the city manage the arrival of migrants, which he says could cost the city $12 billion as it leases space in hotels, builds new emergency shelters and provides various government services for asylum seekers.
His journey begins in Mexico, where Adams will attend the North Capital Forum and meet with government officials.
He then travels to Quito, Ecuador, for additional meetings before heading to Bogotá, Colombia and finally to the Darien Gap, a dangerous part of the route that many South American migrants pass through on their way to the US.
Adams recently moved to tighten New York’s shelter rules by limiting adult migrants to just 30 days in city-run facilities amid overcrowding.
The city is also opposing a court ruling that requires it to provide shelter to anyone who requests it.
City and state leaders in New York, Illinois and elsewhere have urged the federal government to make it easier for migrants to obtain work permits, which would help them pay for food and housing.
The Biden administration last month took a step toward meeting the requirement by extending temporary legal status to an estimated 472,000 Venezuelans in the U.S., which will make it easier for them to obtain work authorization.
Adams, a Democrat, will meet with officials in Mexico, Ecuador and Colombia during a four-day trip starting Wednesday
Tents are seen for new emergency shelters on Randalls Island in August. NYC has opened more than 200 migrant shelters and is considering locations for additional shelters
Adams and New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced $38 million in new state funding to connect migrants with legal services.
Still, expediting work permits for migrants in general would require a decision by Congress to shorten the mandatory six-month waiting period for work permits for asylum seekers who cross the border illegally.
With divided control of Congress, such legislation seems unlikely.
Chicago also plans to send a delegation to the Texas-Mexico border to meet with government officials and non-governmental organizations and give migrants a more realistic picture of what to expect in Chicago.
Cristina Pacione-Zayas, Mayor Brandon Johnson’s first deputy chief of staff, said the Texas border trip will be used in part to warn migrants about Chicago winters.
“We want to control the number of people coming and staying in Chicago,” she said.