New York City Mayor Eric Adams and several members of his administration held a press conference on Wednesday, April 19th at the Rotunda in City Hall. The press conference was called to address the asylum-seeking migrants crisis that has continued to put a palpable strain on the city’s finances. The press conference was opened by Deputy Mayor Anne Williams-Isom. She first noted the presence of all the city officials and politicians at the press conference before she shared a few words of her own. Williams-Isom pointed out how despite the challenge of welcoming and catering to the thousands of asylum-seeking migrants that arrived in the city, New York had done the best it could to lend a helping hand. She then, however, emphasized how despite handling the situation commendably, the city still required significant financial support from the federal government. The Deputy Mayor then handed the microphone to Mayor Adams.
Mayor Adams started off by pointing out how expensive it has been catering to the asylum-seeking migrants that are under the care of the city. As previously highlighted by Mayor Adams and reported by various media outlets, the asylum seeker crisis will soon cost the city $4.2 billion. He highlighted how the significant financial cost of the crisis was going to adversely affect every service in the city. It would not be sustainable for the city to continue to function accordingly without assistance from the federal government.
“This is one of the largest humanitarian crises that this city has ever experienced. It will impact every service in the city,” he said. “The national government has turned its back on New York City,” he added as he called on protesters present at the press conference and those unhappy about the status quo to demonstrate in Washington, D.C. as the federal government could make a huge difference in the crisis if specific, decisive decisions are made.
Mayor Adams pointed out how over 50,000 asylum seekers had gone through New York City’s care with all necessities provided with no external help for what he calls a national problem. “A national problem dropped on the lap of a city. They pass through other municipalities but they end up here in New York,” he said.
Mayor Adams pointed out how despite the challenges of the crisis, the city is still operating as though all is normal. “What is happening to this administration? We are victims of our success. Because you’re still able to function in this city in spite of this humanitarian crisis dropped in our lap,” Adams said. Mayor Adams also highlighted how Title 42 being lifted will make the crisis even worse. Adams claimed that the number of asylum seekers in the city would likely double.
When it came to the matter of the asylum seekers seeking employment, Mayor Adams said that was a solution that lay directly in President Joe Biden’s hands as he could swiftly make it possible for work permits to be granted that would allow people to work. Mayor Adams gave examples of several industries in New York City that are currently experiencing a shortage of employees.
Director of the Office of Management and Budget Jacques Jiha presented a statistical breakdown of the situation, showing how the city was projected to spend $1.4 billion by the end of the current fiscal year. At the end of the 2024 fiscal year, expenditure will add up to $2.4 billion. Jiha showed how the city’s budget was not prepared for the asylum seekers crisis that started almost abruptly. “The city has to, at a minimum, come up with $3 billion. This is a huge burden,” he said. The director said raising taxes was out of the question so budgetary reductions in city departments were necessary.
Mayor Adams returned to the podium and pointed out how a large number of the asylum-seeking migrants are trained professionals simply looking for work opportunities. He also took that opportunity to address those city council members and city officials who claim the city has a surplus in funds while forgetting to include the asylum seekers in those discussions. Adams said the money simply does not appear. “This is a reality. That’s why you need a mayor that understands the complexity of running a city. Running your mouth is not running the city,” he said.
Mayor Adams opened the floor for questions. When asked why the federal government and the Department of Homeland Security had not provided adequate financial support, Adams said he had never received a fully drawn answer besides that the government claimed to understand the city’s predicament. Mayor Adams highlighted that this was not the first time he had requested help from the federal government. “The President and the White House has failed New York City on this issue,” the mayor said. He claimed that perhaps the federal government was not eager to provide funds due to the fact that the media and city council members claimed there were funds available. He also repeated that his administration making the city function well in a crisis also makes it seem like assistance is not needed.