Mayor Eric Adams concluded a four-day tour of Latin America on Saturday, October 7th, where he was supposed to deter migrants from choosing New York City when migrating to the United States, but instead prominently advocated for the “right to work” for migrants in the U.S.
The primary objective of his trip was to engage with Latin American officials, gather firsthand insights, and explore potential solutions to the escalating migrant crisis.
However, some critics contend that Mayor Adams conveyed mixed messages during his tour, potentially causing confusion among New Yorkers amidst a significant influx of migrants to the city.
In Necocli, a northern Colombian town known as a starting point for migrants navigating the perilous Darien jungle towards the U.S., Adams declared, “There is nothing more humane or American than the right to work, and we believe this is a right we should extend.”
This statement comes at a time when New York City grapples with accommodating the tens of thousands of migrants who have arrived this year. Mayor Adams and other city officials have urged the federal government to hasten work authorizations for those already residing in the city.
Commending the Colombian government, Adams highlighted their collaborative efforts with the U.S. to establish offices that ensure a “safe and legal pathway from Colombia to the U.S.”
He emphasized the need for continued collaboration to pave more legal avenues for migrants.
In addition to Colombia, he visited Ecuador and Mexico, touring migrant shelters and liaising with local lawmakers. In Mexico’s Puebla state, he highlighted that New York City is currently “at capacity.”
He told reporters, “Our compassion knows no bounds, but our resources are limited. We do not want to place people in crowded shelters, and we do not want them to believe they will be employed.”
In discussions with lawmakers, Adams delved into strategies to assist asylum seekers, noting, “The reality is we must work together to solve the crises prompting individuals to embark on desperate and perilous journeys.”
He also highlighted that many asylum seekers mistakenly believe New York has an abundance of job opportunities and shelter, even though the city is currently facing challenges in providing both.
On Friday, a Mexican reporter questioned Mayor Adams about the U.S.’s position on welcoming migrants. The reporter asked whether or not “the ideals of welcoming people into the American way of life… changed?” saying, “Are migrants no longer welcome?”
Adams responded, “I think just the opposite. We said ‘give us your tired.,’” referencing the phrase written on the Statue of Liberty. This was in direct contrast to what the mayor had said the purpose of his trip was for, initially proposing this trip as a way for him to deter migrants from continuing to trek into New York City.
While in Colombia, Adams emphasized that his goal wasn’t to impose decisions on migrants but rather to comprehend their reasons and find resolutions to the immigration dilemma.
In light of the rising influx, the federal government has announced plans to deport recent Venezuelan arrivals and extend border wall construction to deter illegal entries. However, many Venezuelan migrants in Necocli remained unfazed by these policies, determined to journey towards the U.S.
Recent data indicates that more than 200,000 migrants were apprehended at the border in September, marking the highest in years.
City officials noted an alarming surge, with approximately 600 migrants arriving daily, doubling last year’s figures.
Political analysts are now speculating about the clarity of the Adams administration’s strategy: whether to seek the federal government’s assistance for migrant work permits, inform migrants of the city’s capacity limitations, and encourage them not to come, or oppose border closures.
They contend that without taking more stringent border actions, handling the migrant influx will continue to be a significant challenge.