Pol criticizes migrant center rollout
By Matthew Fischetti
As the influx of asylum seekers keeps increasing, Hizzoner announced on Saturday that the city will open its fifth emergency response center in Red Hook.
The new center, located at The Brooklyn Cruise Terminal at 210 Clinton Wharf, will serve 1,000 adult men – including those transferred from the Watson Hotel humanitarian relief center as well as additional new migrants. The Watson Hotel center, located in Midtown, will now help transition families and children seeking asylum.
The site is projected to open sometime after January 24 and will run until May 1.
An estimated 41,000 migrants have arrived in the Big Apple since last spring, with 27,000 migrants currently being housed by the city, according to the Mayor’s office. The emergency response centers are different than shelters, of which over 60 have been opened. The emergency response centers, known as HUmanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Centers (HERRCS) are larger facilities that serve up to 1,000 people.
Red Hook Councilwoman Alexa Avilés released a statement on Saturday criticizing the plan and its rollout from the Mayor and the Governor.
“Our district has been welcoming asylum seekers and unhoused New Yorkers since the beginning, and we have multiple shelters located in our district,” the statement reads. “And once again, this administration has chosen to announce their plan to warehouse people in our district at the last hour without any advance notice or community engagement. Instead of trailing a failed strategy for the third time under the guise of getting stuff done, this admin should focus on getting it right.”
Mayor Adams’s office did not respond to a request for comment by press time.
Avilés continued to criticize Governor Hochul, saying: “She can parachute into our community for press conferences about the subway shooting or to stump for her nominee, but we have yet to see her active any meaningful support for New York City, the communities that are working to welcome new arrivals or the asylum seekers themselves.”
Governor Hochul’s office did not respond to a request for comment by press time.
“This is an issue that is heartbreaking for all of us, to see these individuals who traveled so far under such difficult circumstances just in search of the American Dream, and I told the mayor we will be continuing to help him,” Governor Hochul said in a statement shared with the Brooklyn Star. “We’ve been helping him for many months and will continue to give him support.”
In a letter addressed to Red Hook residents obtained by the Brooklyn Star, Avilés said she was concerned about the rollout of the program, called for increased federal and state support, and advocated for long term solutions like work authorization and a pathway to citizenship.
Hizzoner rallied with elected officials including Assemblywoman Jennifer Rajkumar, nonprofit organizations and members of his administration on Sunday calling for federal support.
“With more than 41,000 asylum seekers arriving in New York City since last spring and nearly 28,000 asylum seekers currently in our care, our city is at its breaking point,” Mayor Adams said in a statement. “We continue to surpass both our moral and legal obligations and meet the needs of people arriving in New York, but as the number of asylum seekers continues to grow, we are in serious need of support from both our state and federal government.”
Comptroller Brad Lander issued a December report that suggested the city should expect $1 billion in annual costs through 2026, per the New York Post. New York is uniquely impacted by the migrant influx, due to the city’s long standing right to shelter law which requires anybody who asks for a bed to receive one.
Just earlier this week, NBC New York’s investigative team released a report with allegations that the city was violating the right to shelter law due to the strain the migrant situation is placing on facilities and shelters.
Adams emphasized how the issue was not just isolated to New York, but that local municipalities from Chicago to El Paso have felt the squeeze from increased numbers of migrants.
“I call all on us to look towards our national leaders to come with real comprehensive immigration reform,” Adams said on Sunday, following a letter of elected officials calling for more support. “That’s the answer to this problem. But there’s a blazing fire that’s taking place right now. You cannot go to a house that is burning and say, the result is about teaching fire prevention. You need to put out the fire right now.”