Mayor Adams shared more details Monday about his recent experience spending one of the coldest nights of the year at a migrant shelter, saying the lodgings were “warm” and that the city plans to offer English language classes for the asylum seekers staying there.
Adams’ overnight stay on Saturday visit came after weeks of controversy surrounding the relief center in Brooklyn, which the city opened so it could move men staying at a Manhattan hotel to make room for children and families who are also trying to obtain asylum in the U.S.
“I slept like a baby. It was warm,” the mayor said on Fox5 s Good Day New York. “I had my nice little blanket. That’s my favorite blanket. I’m like Linus, you know, on Charlie Brown. I have my favorite blanket that I just hug up on, and I had pleasant dreams. Got up the next day, had breakfast and sat down and spoke with the asylum seekers. They want to work. They are thankful to this city.”
Days earlier, the rhetoric around the transfer of migrants from the Watson Hotel in Manhattan to the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal in Red Hook wasn’t so cuddly, though.
Advocates slammed Adams for using the NYPD to help move migrants who had been sleeping outside the Watson in protest, and Council Speaker Adrienne Adams described the mayor’s handling of the situation as “disappointing.” But Mayor Adams and his team have blamed the situation on “outside agitators” who sought to use the crisis to advance their own agenda.
“There was a group of people who were agitating the situation, trying to get the migrants not to leave so that we could make room for children and families,” Adams reiterated Monday. “It’s the right thing to do. Children and families should be in those hotels. Single adult males should be in facilities that are dormitories, which other New Yorkers are in, in other parts of the shelter system.”
Since the asylum seekers began flooding into New York City last spring — many arriving on buses dispatched by Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott — Adams has had to find room to house them in city homeless shelters, hotels and relief centers, which the city has put together in a series of controversial fits and starts.
The relief centers have been particularly divisive. The first one, which was slated for a parking lot in the Bronx, was scuttled after concerns over flooding were raised.
Adams noted Monday morning that since he took office last year, the city’s homeless population — including the migrants — has nearly doubled.
“In January 1, 2022 I inherited 45,000 people in our homeless system,” he said. “In one year, we received an additional 43,000 in our system, and we had to do the same thing that we’ve been doing for 400 years and that is really being hospitable as we deal with people who are seeking the American Dream.”
The mayor, who was videotaped playing video games with some of the migrants at the Red Hook relief center, said he drew several takeaways from his conversations with them.
“Speaking with the men who were there, we’re going to make some additions. Some of them stated they would like English classes. We’re going to collaborate to do that. Some of them stated that they just want some type of recreational activity,” he told NY1 earlier Monday. “They want to work. That’s why we need to expedite work permits. We have a lot of jobs available in this city.”
Adams has repeatedly called on the federal government for more help in navigating the migrant crisis — and part of that is loosening federal work requirements that currently apply to asylum seekers so they can get to work work legally more quickly.
On Monday, he said he expects to receive $8 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, but added that more is needed.
Adams predicted the migrant crisis will cost the city $1.4 billion in the current fiscal year, and $2.8 billion in the year after.
“This is a major financial impact and burden on our city and we are hoping that the White House understands this is a national problem and it must be resolved,” he said.
Adams also touched on the fact that some of the migrants coming into the city are now being relocated to Canada and other parts of the U.S.
“Those who are seeking to go somewhere else — we’re not pushing or forcing — if they’re seeking to go somewhere else, we are helping in the re-ticketing process,” he said. “We are assisting in interviewing those who seek to go somewhere else. Some want to go to Canada. Some want to go to warmer states, and we are there for them as they continue to move on with their pursuit of this dream.”
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