(NEW YORK) — After a week of blame-shifting, name-calling and protests, New York politicians are coming to terms with the reality of housing and caring for thousands of new migrants.
A new bus of migrants arrived at New York City’s Port Authority Bus Terminal Saturday morning around 6 a.m. as officials remained committed to caring for New York’s newest immigrants, albeit without a clear action plan.
Following the lifting of Title 42 — a pandemic-era rule that allowed the easier expulsion of migrants — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has continued to bus migrants to major cities like New York. Local, state and city officials have voiced concerns about a lack of planning to accommodate the migrants as New York operates a shelter system above capacity and vows to send migrants to counties that have already declared state of emergencies.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul sent a letter to President Joe Biden Friday requesting assistance from federal agencies to house migrants on federal land in New York, including military facilities.
“I have determined that this incident is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the State and the affected local government and that supplementary federal assistance is necessary,” Hochul wrote.
As of Friday, New York City is beyond capacity for its shelter system with over 36,700 migrants housed across 120 locations, according to Hochul. She added that with no more shelter space, 40% of “mid-level hotel stock” in New York City is used for short-term respite centers.
In her letter, Hochul specifically called for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to direct the Department of Defense and National Park Service to assist in building and operating temporary housing on military installations and other government sites.
Hochul told county executives that she expects the federal government to soon step in to provide aid, according to Steve Neuhaus, the executive of Orange County, New York.
Roughly 60 miles from New York City, Orange County became a center for controversy on Thursday when 82 migrants were bused from New York City to the Crossroads Hotel in Newburgh, New York.
Neuhaus told ABC News that New York Mayor Eric Adams did not provide any notice about the migrants to either himself, state police, the local sheriff or Hochul.
“So, it really is an unprofessional way of doing this; this could have gone a lot smoother,” said Neuhaus. “If they said, ‘Look, they’re coming, here’s their names, we’ll work out everything later,’ but it hasn’t gone that way.”
Neuhaus said last week that Adams initially told him 60 male migrants would arrive but a few days later recanted that statement and assured him no buses would arrive, according to Neuhaus. But on Thursday, he claims he received a call that a bus was 15 minutes away from the hotel.
Neuhaus also said he expects more buses to arrive at the Crossroads Hotel and Ramada Inn in Newburgh over the weekend. He said he heard that from county partners — not the city of New York — adding that Governor Hochul is trying her best, but the city “has gone rogue.”
On Friday, Orange County sued New York City and the Crossroads Hotel to stop the housing of migrants. The town of Newburgh, New York, also filed a lawsuit and temporary restraining order against the owner of the Crossroads Hotel Friday, requesting an immediately halt to the “deliberate, hazardous and unlawful conversion” of the hotel as a selected housing site for New York City’s migrant program.
Neuhaus told ABC News that he is not opposed to the arrival of migrants in Orange County but wants them to be vetted, adding that migrant workers arrive each year to work on farms.
New York City Councilmember Ari Kagan expressed a similar frustration about a lack of communication from Eric Adams after he learned that the standalone gym for a public school in Coney Island, New York, would be used to house migrants.
“First time I learned about it was a social media post on Facebook by the principal of that school,” Councilmember Ari Kagan told ABC affiliate WABC.
Nearby residents expressed frustration about the surprise move, citing crime and public health concerns.
“Take them to Gracie Mansion,” one resident told WABC. “Mayor Adams is taking this thing a little too far.”
As New York struggles to house migrants, Adams has moved to relax rules that previously protected homeless families from seeking shelter. Signing emergency executive orders on Wednesday, Adams suspended sections of New York’s administrative code related to right-to-shelter rules, including requiring families to be placed in private rooms with bathrooms and kitchens.
Eric Adams alluded to New York’s challenges in an address to graduates of the City University of New York School of Law on Friday morning.
“These are exciting times, and we know we can move this city forward as we deal with the issues around immigration, the issues around public safety, the issues around how do we build a better city for all,” Adams said.
During the address, students turned so that their backs faced the mayor, with boos and heckles tossed by the crowd — a rough conclusion to a challenging week as New York City faces a crisis with no end in sight.
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