In the letter addressed to Honorable Erika Edwards of the New York Supreme Court, the 63-year-old mayor pleaded for the dismissal of the city's legal obligation to provide shelter to adults. According to him, in cases of state emergency, the 1981 law should be voided. He believes that the massive influx of asylum seekers "shows no signs of abating" and that this ongoing migrant crisis "will destroy" his beloved city. (Related: BREAKING POINT reached: NYC, other sanctuary cities “tired” of illegal immigrants influx, struggle with local resources.)
He added that since May 21, two days before the city’s initial May 23 request for leave to seek a modification of the Consent Judgment, approximately 50,600 migrants have sought shelter in the city, for a total of more than 122,700 from April 1, 2022, to date. He also said that NYC has opened 61 additional sites. As a result, expenditures associated with the crisis have increased by a whopping $1.1 billion.
"The city is not seeking to terminate the Consent Judgment; we seek only the immediate relief that present circumstances demand. New York City has done more than any other city in the last 18 months to meet this national humanitarian crisis. The judgment's onerous terms are demonstrably ill-suited to present circumstances and restrain the city at a time when flexibility to deal with the emergency is paramount," he said in the letter's opening paragraph.
Adams further complained that the state of Texas has resumed sending multiple buses each day. He also griped that thus far, Texas Governor Gregg Abbott's office has been unwilling to respond to his requests for information about specific numbers of buses that are en route, the timing of their anticipated arrival, and the family composition of the people on the buses. "This makes planning for new arrivals nearly impossible for city personnel," the letter included.
Back in September, during his opening remarks at a town hall meeting in the Upper West Side neighborhood of Manhattan, the mayor whined that because of the "migrant tsunami," the money does not get to be spent on things like homeless shelters, police and more public services, and actually go to Americans and legal residents. He was so frustrated that President Joe Biden's administration as well as his very own governor Kathy Hochul had just allowed the influx of illegals from the southern border.
As he scrambles for solutions, Adams traveled south of the border on Wednesday in an attempt to deter migrants from moving to New York City after entering the United States. In a much-publicized four-day trip to Latin America, he said he intended to tell asylum seekers not to expect 'five-star hotels' if they move to the Big Apple. But with the city's focus turned squarely on the migrant crisis, which has seen iconic hotels such as the Roosevelt Hotel turned into shelters, homeless advocacy groups warned, following Adams' latest request, could be a slippery slope.
Also, his letter faced a quick backlash from homeless advocacy groups who claimed that the move would 'gut' rights offered to homeless people. The Legal Aid Society, the group that filed the lawsuit that led to the right to shelter law, issued a joint statement with the Coalition for the Homeless condemning the move as a death sentence for protections given to homeless people.
"This is the city's most significant and damaging attempt to retreat on its legal and moral obligation to provide safe and decent shelter for people without homes since that right was established 42 years ago,” the groups said. “Street homelessness would balloon to a level unseen in our city since the Great Depression."
As of press time, a lot of migrants have been forced to sleep rough on the streets of New York City, with families given priority in hotel rooms while shelters reach capacity.
Meanwhile, the mayor walked back some of his comments. He said the border should remain open, but those crossing should be funneled to other cities. "We believe the borders should remain open," Adams said at a news conference. "That’s the official position of this city, but we have made it clear there should be a decompression strategy so that we could properly deal with the volume that’s coming into our city."