Vice President Kamala Harris may want a word.
Mayor Adams pushed Tuesday for the appointment of a “national czar” to oversee the federal government’s response to the country’s migrant crisis — seemingly overlooking the fact that Harris has already been tasked with that responsibility.
Speaking during a news conference at City Hall, Adams said he arrived at the czar solution after visiting El Paso, Texas, this past weekend to get a first-hand view of the border city, which has turned into an epicenter of the migrant crisis.
“The city was overrun,” Adams told reporters. “It was unbelievable how we undermine 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.”
He continued: “We should treat this the same way we treat any major disaster or major crisis that should be coordinated with the Border Patrol, coordinated 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.”
President Biden tapped Harris in March 2021 to serve as the federal government’s point person on policy and enforcement related to the tens of thousands of Latin and Central American migrants who cross into the U.S. from Mexico every year in hopes of obtaining asylum.
Harris has drawn criticism from Republicans for only visiting the southern border once since taking on the border czar job. Democrats like Adams, on the other hand, have generally not criticized her handling of the issue, instead slamming Republicans in Congress for refusing to consider legislation to reform the country’s immigration laws.
White House spokespeople did not return requests for comment on Adams’ demand for a border czar.
Adams’ Texas trip came as New York City continues to house and provide services for more than 26,000 asylum seekers who have arrived since last spring. Most of the migrants fled violence and poverty in their home countries and ended up in New York after being bussed from the U.S. southern border by federal and state authorities who say they can’t accommodate them.
In his Tuesday press conference, Adams said it’s “wrong” for the Biden administration and Republican governors like Texas’ Greg Abbott to place the burden of helping migrants on a handful of large cities like New York, Chicago and Houston.
Instead, the feds should step in and make sure cities, both large and small, “take a portion” of the migrant influx, Adams said.
“If we all take a portion, it won’t overwhelm a city,” he added.
Though he has predicted his administration could shell out as much as $1 billion on migrant response this fiscal year, Adams said he is not weighing the possibility of lifting the city’s longstanding “sanctuary” status, which precludes local authorities from assisting federal agencies with immigration enforcement in most instances.
“That’s not on the agenda at all,” the mayor said. “Jesus, he was faced with ‘no more room,’ but there was a place that was found, and that’s what we do. We have no more room, but we’re still finding spaces and accommodating, and we’re going to continue to do that.”
That message contrasted comments Adams made while in Texas. “New York cannot take more [migrants] … There is no more room,” he told reporters in El Paso on Sunday.
His insistence that New York cannot welcome more asylum seekers has drawn backlash from immigration advocates and progressive Democrats, including City Comptroller Brad Lander, who accused the mayor of “reinforcing a harmful narrative that new immigrants themselves are a problem.”
Asked Tuesday about Lander’s criticism, Adams said the comptroller should stay in his lane.
“He’s a comptroller. He should be concerned about our fiscal stability,” Adams said. “For him to say that it’s just, you know, that’s just a political commentary. We’ve got to fix this problem.”
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