Mayor Adams: Get to know migrants in your shelters


“This issue will destroy New York City. Destroy New York City. We’re getting 10,000 migrants a month.”

Those were the words of Mayor Eric Adams last week during a town hall with residents and electeds regarding the asylum seeker crisis.

“One time, we were just getting Venezuela,” Adams said. “Now we’re getting Ecuador. Now we’re getting Russian-speaking coming through Mexico. We’ve got Western Africa. Now we’re getting people from all over the globe (who) have made their minds up that they’re going to come through the southern part of the border and come into New York City.”

While the comments surely show the frustration the mayor has with the crisis that certainly faces the whole country as Congress and President Biden fail to come up with effective immigrant reform, it is fair to say politics has played a huge role. If it weren’t for border states like Texas illegally busing asylum seekers to the city, the vice presidential resident in Washington, and even Cape Cod, it’s fair to say the numbers of migrants would not be as large.

And Mayor Adams continued to make it clear in a PBS NewsHour interview with Geoff Bennett, the situation is only going to get worse.

“You are facing some criticism for saying at that town hall this past week that the migrant crisis will ‘destroy New York City,” Bennett said. “There are Democrats who accuse you of sounding like a Republican. There are immigration advocates who say that those comments, in many ways, villainize migrants. What exactly did you mean with those remarks, and also by saying that the city we knew, we’re about to lose?

“Well, let’s be clear,” Adams said. “I did not say migrants will destroy the city. This crisis is going to harm migrants, and it’s going to harm long-term New Yorkers. We are all in this together. And many of those who are criticizing this have not spent a night in a migrant humanitarian relief center. They have not been down at the hotels. They have not communicated with family members who have lost loved ones.

“I see on the ground what is happening. This is going to be a $12 billion price tag over three years.

“We already had a homeless population, we already had low-income New Yorkers that were struggling to feed themselves and to stay in their homes.”

In a “CBS This Morning” interview Aug. 22, Adams claims to make surprise visits to shelters to see the quality of service. He also said when he hears complaints of standards of service, “we immediately get in.”

Gov. Kathy Hochul criticized Adams last month for not acting quick enough in asking for state and federal help to battle the crisis.

“The city has not made timely requests for regulatory changes, has not always promptly shared necessary information with the state, has not implemented programs in a timely manner, and has not consulted the state before taking certain actions,” according to a letter first printed in The New York Times.

We can say the mayor has not traveled to the Van Cortlandt Motel migrant shelter amid reports of terrible living conditions, where uneaten food is being tossed in the garbage and people are being squeezed into small rooms.

It would be great if even members of the Adams administration could make regular trips to all the makeshift shelters in the five boroughs to see if the service providers are really doing their job. At the Van Cortlandt Motel, it seems shelter operator Neighborhood Association for Inter-Cultural Affairs is not getting the job done.

The mayor’s office could take a cue from the SAR High School students who recently traveled to Phoenix to help migrants on the border. Adam Burian, Yishama Orlow, Matthew Ruben and Jordana Rudolph traveled to the border last month to buy and prepare food for the migrants coming from Mexico.

With the guidance of Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz — founder and president of Uri L’Zedek — the students got to know the migrants and their needs.

Maybe this is something Adams and his administration should think about doing. Maybe not going all the way to the border, but at least regularly going to the shelters here and getting to know the stories of the migrants and how they can eventually help New York City’s economy.

This crisis won’t end until city government fully understands these are people looking for a way to pick up their lives after a horrendous trip getting here in the first place.

migrants, asylum seekers, homeless, shelters, SAR, students, Phoenix, Arizona