New York City is planning to employ private security firms to monitor its crowded migrant facilities, a task deemed too risky even for trained peace officers.
Gregory Floyd, head of Teamsters Local 237, expressed concerns over the safety of these centers, mentioning the presence of gang members among the migrants and the uncertain vetting procedures.
Floyd said, “It’s volatile. It’s dangerous. We don’t know if all these migrants are properly vetted. My members are unarmed.”
Floyd’s expressed concern about the background checks of migrants isn’t new. Critics have voiced ongoing worries that inadequate vetting could lead to gang members or criminals being mixed in with the migrant population.
In May, Anne Williams-Isom, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services under Mayor Eric Adams, admitted that only a small number of migrants have applied for asylum, citing fear and confusion over the process.
NYC Health and Hospitals started a bidding process on Friday, July 7th to employ private security for the 50,000+ migrants under its care for its twelve Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Centers (HERRCs).
The added cost of this additional security is still being determined, but the city already spends about $8 million a day on services for asylum-seekers. Mayor Eric Adams has projected that the cost of the ongoing crisis could reach $4.5 billion by next June.
The NYPD, grappling with staff shortages and pressure from mandatory overtime and oversight, has been seen at some migrant facilities.
The bid seeks a private contractor to respond to the surge of asylum seekers arriving in New York. The key responsibility of the security will be to ensure the safety of guests and staff and to enforce the HERRC safety protocols and procedures.
Some officials have voiced concerns over the city’s move to hire private security. City Council Minority Leader Joe Borelli questioned the city’s simultaneous assurance of the centers’ safety and their expenditure on additional security measures.
More than 84,000 migrants have already been processed through the city’s intake centers, pushing the HERRCs and nearly 180 other emergency centers to their limits, according to city officials.
Last week, Mayor Adams suggested controversial plans to house migrants in city schools during summer breaks and use Gracie Mansion as a shelter – the latter proposal was later clarified to be a symbolic offer. Adams’ plans to transport migrants to upstate New York and Long Island hotels have also been met with resistance and even lawsuits from local officials citing security concerns.
United States Representative Nicole Malliotakis criticized Adams’ approach to the migrant influx, claiming his priorities were misplaced and questioning the decision to fund services for migrants instead of hiring additional police officers. She pointed out that the city is already short-staffed with police officers and detectives, whose workloads lead to increased stress, retirements, and departures to other municipalities.
Asylum seekers in the U.S. face a narrow time frame of one year, within which they must file their asylum claim or become ineligible. However, even after applying for asylum, the process can be lengthy.
Individuals who have crossed the Mexican border might end up waiting for over a decade to get a court date due to the backlog of at least 127,000 pending cases. This situation highlights the predicament faced by NYC in managing its migrant population.