Mayor Adams hinted Monday that he believes electoral politics is to blame for the fact that President Biden and Gov. Hochul have dragged their feet on reimbursing his administration for costs associated with the city’s migrant crisis.
According to an estimate from the Independent Budget Office, it could cost the city nearly $600 million per year to provide housing, health care and other services for the thousands of Latin American asylum seekers who have arrived in the city since this spring, and Adams has for months pleaded with the feds and Hochul to help pick up the tab.
Speaking to reporters at City Hall on Monday afternoon, Adams said he’s “still fighting for reimbursement” and that there’s no longer an excuse for his fellow Democrats in Albany and Washington to hold off on helping out now that the Nov. 8 elections are in the rearview.
“The campaign season is over, you know. It’s time to keep the focus on this issue. We need to be reimbursed,” he said. “We spent a great deal of money for a national problem, and we’re looking for reimbursement and assistance from the state and from the federal government.”
Asked to elaborate on his “campaign season” comment, Adams said he was referencing the fact that Hochul and Biden have been too busy attending political rallies to delve into the reimbursement issue.
“People seem to be more focused on issues when they don’t have to run around from location to location to location. Not ‘campaign season is over’ because no one wanted to talk about it, because I was talking about it,” he said.
Some strategists say there could’ve been a more overtly political component as to why Biden and Hochul didn’t help cover the city’s migrant crisis costs before the Nov. 8 midterm elections.
BREAKING: CBP reports there were 230,678 migrant encounters at the border in October, the first month of fiscal year 2023. It is an enormous increase over recent Octobers.
OCT FY'23 : 230,678
OCT FY'22 : 164,837
OCT FY'21 : 71,929
OCT FY'20: 45,139
OCT FY'19: 60,781 @FoxNews
— Bill Melugin (@BillFOXLA) November 15, 2022
Republicans across the U.S. have used the flow of asylum seekers arriving at the southern border as a political cudgel against Biden over the course of the campaign season, contending that the crisis shows the president’s immigration policies are weak and ineffective.
For Biden or Hochul to funnel emergency reimbursement funding to the city against that political backdrop could’ve been further weaponized by Republican candidates for elected offices in New York and beyond, said Ken Frydman, a veteran GOP strategist.
“Had Biden and Hochul reimbursed NYC for its migrant crisis costs, Republican candidates would’ve used that as an immigration reform issue in their campaigns against Democrats,” said Frydman. ”Rule number one of politics: Never help your opponent.”
One especially pricey component of the Adams administration’s migrant crisis response was the tent facility for asylum seekers erected on Randalls Island.
The site cost at least $650,000 just to build — and Adams announced last week that the city is dismantling it even though it has stood mostly empty since opening less than a month ago due to a recent slowdown in migrants arriving in the city.
Asked Monday if he regrets building the tent given that it was barely used, Adams demurred and argued it highlights the “success” of his administration’s migrant crisis response.
“I’m baffled by those who don’t realize the successful execution of a plan,” he said. “The worst thing that could’ve happened was that we waited.”
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