At least 1,800 Latin American asylum seekers arrived in the city over the weekend, signaling that the migrant wave is accelerating even as Mayor Adams’ administration scrambles to shelter thousands of desperate travelers already in New York.
The mayor disclosed the latest figure to reporters on the sidelines of the Columbus Day Parade in Manhattan on Monday morning.
“Those numbers are unbelievable — 1,800,” Adams said before issuing a plea for assistance: “We need every level of government to participate in dealing with this crisis that we are facing. You know, over just the last few days to receive those large numbers, it’s a strain on our system and we have to make sure we get the support that we need.”
The weekend influx means the total number of migrants in the five boroughs is now at least 19,200, according to data from Adams’ office. An Adams spokeswoman cautioned the tally is likely higher, as the data only covers migrants who have cycled through the shelter intake system.
Most of the migrants in New York crossed into the U.S. from Mexico in hopes of seeking asylum after fleeing violence and economic devastation in their home countries. Many of them ended up in New York because Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott sent them to the city on buses in a political stunt aimed at criticizing Democratic immigration policies.
The migrants have strained New York’s shelter system. Nearly 62,000 people slept in city shelters this past Thursday, the latest night for which data is available, and Adams’ administration has on at least two occasions this year failed to provide beds for dozens of homeless individuals in apparent violation of the local right-to-shelter law.
To alleviate the crisis, Adams declared a state of emergency Friday that will suspend some land use requirements so it’s easier for his administration to build short-term housing for migrants, such as the controversial tent camp being set up on Randalls Island.
Several Council members have blasted the tent camp plan, saying Adams should instead house migrants in hotels. Council Speaker Adrienne Adams released a list late Friday of 10 hotels she said has thousands of vacant rooms the administration can rent.
Asked at Monday’s parade if he’s entertaining the speaker’s hotel request, Adams said, “Yes, yes,” but would not elaborate.
Hizzoner did tell reporters that the city desperately needs funding and assistance from the federal and state governments to deal with the crisis, and suggested his emergency declaration served as an opportunity to communicate that.
“I had to explain to New Yorkers what we were dealing with, what we did already, what we’re going to do and what we need, because this situation is so complex,” he said. “I wanted to take my time out and say to New Yorkers, ‘Here’s what we’re dealing with.’”