New York City Mayor Eric Adams called on the appointment of a “national czar” tasked with handling the influx of migrants across the southern border – even though that’s the same role Vice President Kamala Harris was tapped to fulfill nearly two years ago by the White House.
Hosting a question-and-answer session with reporters at City Hall Tuesday, Adams discussed a “decompression strategy,” which he explained would involve arranging or building spaces to move the approximately 40,000 asylum seekers who’ve arrived in the Big Apple from the southern border to suburban localities or other cities in upstate New York with more space to accommodate them.
“How do you not overburden one city? How do you spread out this obligation, this national obligation that we have? El Paso is a beautiful city,” Adams said, referring to his visit to Texas last week to see the border crisis firsthand. “Visually, it’s a beautiful place. The city was overrun. It was unbelievable how we undermined the foundation of that city as they’re grappling like many of us are with real problems.”
“And so there must be a national czar,” Adams continued, seemingly unaware Harris supposedly has that job. “I think it should be done through FEMA. We should treat this the same way we treat any major disaster or major crisis. That should be coordinating with the Border Patrol, coordinating with our cities, our states, to make sure that we as a country absorb this national issue. And that’s what I learned when I was on the ground there. The lack of coordination is really causing this to be hit by certain cities.”
In March 2021, President Joe Biden tapped Harris to lead the White House effort to tackle the influx of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border and address the root causes of the problem with Central American nations. Since then, Harris has received criticism from Republicans for only visiting the border once. Biden did so just this month for the first time since becoming commander-in-chief two years ago.
Despite arguing the federal government’s inaction on mitigating the migrant crisis is “destabilizing” American cities, Adams said he would not reevaluate New York City’s sanctuary status.
“No, that’s not on the agenda at all,” Adams said. “And I think of, as we celebrated the birth of Jesus, he was faced with a no more room, but there was a place that was found. And that’s what we are doing. We have no more room, but we are still finding spaces and accommodating. And we are going to continue to do that. That is our law, that is our obligation. And that is what’s morally right.”
Adams thanked Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Minority Leader Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., for advocating for some $800 million in federal funding to help address the influx of migrants into New York City, while also contending that “even with the infusion of money, it’s not going to solve the problem” unless there’s proper coordination and communication.
Adams estimated that the migrant crisis will cost New York City at least $1 billion this fiscal year alone.
The mayor further argued the rate as which New York City was receiving migrants is not sustainable to properly house them, describing how 3,000 people arrived in one week alone.
“What the federal government should do is to coordinate this problem,” Adams said. “This is a federal issue. This is a national issue. El Paso should not have gone through that. Chicago, when I speak to Mayor Lightfoot, she’s placing people in the basement of her libraries. Houston, Washington. Washington is already dealing with their own housing crisis, where people have to live in tents.”
“This is wrong, this is wrong. And for the federal government, and that is on both sides of the aisle, to not acknowledge that we are destabilizing our cities, I’m not going to remain silent on that,” the mayor added. “This is wrong for the cities of America to take this on.”
Adams has traded public barbs in recent days with City Comptroller Brad Lander, who criticized the mayor’s decision to visit El Paso and accused Adams of “reinforcing a harmful narrative that new immigrants themselves are a problem.” Asked about Lander Tuesday, Adams said, “He should be concerned about our fiscal stability, and his answer to it is, ‘Raise taxes on rich people to pay for migrant asylum seekers.’ You’re the comptroller. You should be concerned about the financial hit our city is seeing, and he should be writing letters with me and going to D.C.”
“When I see someone tells me I should not go to El Paso to see this problem and to talk with the mayor there so that we can work together, I just don’t understand the logic of it,” Adams added. “We have a crisis in our city that’s going to impact our entire lives. No one is saying, ‘And let’s leave people out of the city.’ For him to say that, it’s just a political commentary. We got to fix this problem.”