Hochul Defends Response To Migrant Crisis
Gov. Kathy Hochul is touting efforts to deal with an influx of migrants amid criticism her administration isn’t doing enough to respond to the crisis.
On Sunday, Hochul met with U.S. Department of the Interior officials to discuss the feasibility of housing migrants in federal sites, including Floyd Bennett Field, a former air base in Brooklyn. She told reporters after the meeting that she didn’t receive a commitment but vowed to press on with the efforts.
“Since asylum seekers first arrived in New York, we have been providing significant humanitarian aid as New York City works to meet their legal obligation to provide shelter,” Hochul said in a statement over the weekend. “We will continue our efforts to provide financial support, personnel and equipment, and continued advocacy for federal assistance.”
Another New York site being considered for a potential migrant center is Fort Wadsworth on Staten Island, a former military base currently used as a training center for U.S. Army Reservists, the Hochul administration said. Federal and state officials visited the site on Friday.
Currently, the state is funding four migrant shelter sites in New York, including a facility on Randall’s Island capable of housing up to 2,000 men. Hochul said the “humanitarian” centers, which provide shelter, food and other necessities, are costing the state’s taxpayers $20 million a month to operate.
Hochul said the state had included $1 billion in its budget for migrants and deployed 2,000 National Guard units to housing sites. On Saturday, Hochul said that more National Guard troops were being deployed to assist asylum seekers relocated to Erie County sites.
The deployment follows demands from Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz to New York City Mayor Eric Adams to stop sending migrants to his county in response to two alleged sexual assault incidents involving asylum seekers.
“Two serious, violent crimes in two weeks are two too many,” the Democrat said in a statement. “Our refugee agencies did their best to provide support and assistance, but our community’s trust and good faith have been betrayed. We were assured of safety, security, and proper screening. Clearly that hasn’t been done.”
New York City has seen an influx of nearly 100,000 asylum seekers over the past year and a surge of immigration along the U.S.-Mexico border. The surge coincided with the end of the pandemic-era Title 42 policy that required migrants to stay in Mexico while requesting asylum, which expired in May.
The Adams administration has opened more than 190 emergency shelters in city-owned buildings, hotels and other locations and more than a dozen processing centers for new arrivals. Adams has also been relocating migrants to upstate counties, met with pushback from county officials and legal challenges.
Last week, Adams said the cost of sheltering asylum-seekers across the city could rise to $12 billion in coming years, calling for more help from the state and federal governments.
Meanwhile, Hochul is facing pressure from advocacy groups seeking to force the state to provide more money to house asylum seekers, with hundreds sleeping on New York City’s streets amid a lack of shelter beds.