By HENG WEILI in New York | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2023-08-15 11:10
New York City is struggling to accommodate nearly 100,000 migrants seeking asylum in the United States, and the situation is having an impact beyond the city.
Mayor Eric Adams announced last week that the city is expected to spend $12 billion over the next three years on the migrant influx.
„We are past our breaking point,“ Adams said at City Hall on Wednesday. „With more than 57,300 individuals currently in our care on an average night, it amounts to $9.8 million a day, almost $300 million a month and nearly $3.6 billion a year.“
Of the 96,000 new arrivals since 2022, more than 57,000 are staying in homeless shelters, according to Anne Williams-Isom, the deputy mayor for health and human services, The New York Times reported. There are 108,400 people staying in the homeless shelters, the most ever by far, she said.
„When the doors are closing in Denver, when the system is full in Chicago, people say, ‘Let’s go to New York City because we know that New York City will provide migrants with food and shelter and the things that they need,'“ Williams-Isom said last week.
Outside of the city, the National Guard has been deployed to western New York after a second migrant brought there through the city’s resettlement program was arrested on sexual abuse charges.
Officials in Erie County, where Buffalo is located, alleged that a third party contracted by New York City to run the migrant hotel operation might have obstructed local police investigations into the assaults and are demanding that the Biden administration and Congress address the situation federally.
At a news conference Saturday, Democratic Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said no more asylum seekers would be sent from New York City until security measures involving the migrants improved.
He said New York’s Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul agreed to place National Guard members at each of the hotels housing asylum seekers to provide a „stabilizing presence“.
Poloncarz and Cheektowaga Chief of Police Brian Gould called for immediately discontinuing use of a Best Western hotel to house asylum seekers.
Gould said that the hotel is located in a residential neighborhood and „is causing not only safety concerns to nearby residents but also quality-of-life issues“.
A 27-year-old woman from Buffalo who was working at the hotel for Platinum Community Care — one of the agencies providing services to the asylum seekers — told police on Friday that she had been sexually assaulted.
A 22-year-old male asylum seeker was charged with felony first degree sexual abuse and misdemeanor unlawful imprisonment, Gould said.
The police chief and county executive both alleged that DocGo, a third party that has received a $432 million no-bid contract from the city to run migrant hotel operations and provide other services, might have interfered in investigations of the sexual assault cases.
Poloncarz said he had spoken to the governor, New York Mayor Eric Adams and New York state Department of Homeland Security Commissioner Jackie Brey about the matter.
„All agree that the alleged incident is reprehensible, and the safety of our community is paramount. I demanded Mayor Adams pause all further transportation of asylum seekers to our community until such time we can resolve all security issues,“ Poloncarz told reporters. „He agreed and informed me they will not send any additional persons to Erie County at this time.
„As we have done for years, Erie County opened its arms to try to welcome these new Americans. Two serious violent crimes are alleged to have occurred in the past two weeks, and they are two too many,“ Poloncarz said.
„The town, county and New York state cannot solve what is essentially a federal issue,“ Poloncarz said Saturday. „We cannot do it on the local level. It must be done at the federal level.“
Erie County legislator Frank Todaro, a Republican, said in a statement about the other alleged sex crime that an „asylum seeker that was shipped here from NYC was charged with raping a woman in front of a 3-year-old child“.
The mayor said that the city expects to spend about $5 billion this fiscal year on services for migrants, as much as the annual budgets of the Fire, Parks and Sanitation departments combined, the Times reported.
„Some things we were doing, we’re not going to be able to do,“ Adams said. „We are past our breaking point. New Yorkers’ compassion may be limitless, but our resources are not.“
The city will spend $20 million a month to house migrants on Randall’s Island if it fills all of a makeshift shelter’s 2,000 beds, the New York Post reported Sunday, citing a source.
Hochul has been trying to get the federal government to permit the city to use Floyd Bennett Field, a former Navy air station in Brooklyn, to set up a migrant shelter. But so far, the Biden administration has not agreed after the governor had a conference call with White House aides.
The Roosevelt Hotel in Midtown Manhattan has been housing migrants and was recently in the news when hundreds were left to sleep on sidewalks after the hotel had no more room.
„For me, it was striking in that this is steps from Madison Avenue. Madison Avenue is a very posh address,“ said freelance photographer Yunghi Kim, reported CNN. „This was playing out in the heart of New York City, not too far from Grand Central Station.“
Kim said it reminded her of the various refugee crises she has covered in her 40-year career.
„It’s just the way they were left out in the open,“ said Kim, who provided some pizza to the migrants.