NEW YORK — “There’s no more room” in New York City to house asylum seekers, Mayor Eric Adams said Wednesday, putting new pressure on the Biden administration to immediately address the migrant crisis.
“We’re at that point,” Adams said during POLITICO’s The Fifty: America’s Mayors, a virtual interview on the sidelines of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Washington.
“At the same time we’re going to continue to do our moral and legal obligation,” Adams, a Democrat, said. “Whoever comes to the city — you’re not seeing individuals sleeping on the streets with families — because were continuing to pivot and shift as needed.”
Some 40,000 migrants have arrived in New York City from the southern border since last year, with an additional 3,000 coming during just one week this month.
“The White House must ensure the immediate needs, that cities that are impacted receive the support they deserve,” Adams said in the interview with POLITICO’s Sally Goldenberg. He added that mayors across the country would be joining voices to push the Biden administration to act.
Adams recently joined Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot to successfully pressure the fellow Democratic leader of Colorado, Gov. Jared Polis, to stop busing migrants to their cities. Previously Democrats were criticizing Republican governors like Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas for using migrants as political pawns by shipping them to their cities — and a favorite summer vacation destination.
Over the weekend, El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser, another Democrat, hosted Adams at the Texas border, where the New York mayor called on FEMA to help coordinate the response to the crisis.
Adams wants more funding from Washington to plug what he says could be a $2 billion hole in the city’s budget for migrant housing and other services. He’s also called on the White House to relax work requirements so asylum seekers can get jobs.
So far, President Joe Biden has largely ignored those calls, despite a kinship with Adams, who is a fellow moderate with a middle-of-the road approach on crime and a strong base of working-class supporters.
Beyond sending hundreds of millions of dollars to cities and states dealing with the influx, the Biden administration has few strategies to address the record number of people arriving at the southern border and faces the momentous political challenge of finding a solution that will address stridently different views held by Democrats and Republicans.
On Wednesday, Adams said the federal government must act because the problem is not just playing out in cities farther afield, but right in Washington, where “Mayor Bowser has made it clear she’s dealing with her own housing crisis.”
“To allow and have an influx of migrant seekers is impacting her right here in our nation’s capital,” Adams said.
He plans to strategize with fellow mayors at the conference this week about how other cities could step up to help places like New York that are overwhelmed.
“I spoke with the Kansas City mayor today and he stated that, although we’re not directly impacted, we know this is hurting your cities that are and we want to be part of the solution,” Adams said.
Adams has also turned to New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, also a Democrat, for emergency aid — a request she’s largely rebuffed, and asked the federal government to allow the city to use local land it owns to house migrants.
Without additional funds to address the ongoing flow of migrants, the city may have to revive a controversial plan to put migrants on cruise ships docked in city ports.
“Every item is on the table,” Adams said.