NEW YORK - Governor Kathy Hochul struck a forceful tone on Thursday, calling out the federal government for not doing enough to aid New York in the migrant crisis.
However, the speech, which was delivered in Albany – 100 miles away from where the migrant crisis is overwhelming the city, she carefully threaded an argument that it is not the state’s legal obligation to shelter migrants.
"This crisis originated with the federal government and it must be resolved through the federal government," Hochul said.
In another letter to President Joe Biden, Hochul placed pressure on the Biden administration to immediately take executive action to address the migrant crisis.
But she stopped short of asking the federal government to declare a state of emergency, something city leaders, including Mayor Eric Adams, have been asking her to do for months. A state of emergency would free up federal resources needed to get people out of the city’s shelters.
Adams fired back though in what might be his most critical statement to date, saying that Hochul has left the city to deal with the migrant crisis on its own.
"Although we’re disappointed that the state today appears to minimize the role that they can — and must — play in responding to this crisis, the state must fulfil its duty to more than 8 million of the state’s residents who call New York City home," Adams said.
In her letter, Hochul asked the federal government for four items:
- Speed up the process for work authorization so migrants can get to work faster. This process can take up to two years when it is technically supposed to be a 6 month wait time.
- "Significant" financial assistance, highlighting that the migrant crisis could cost the state an additional $4.5 billion by next year
- Help in finding facilities in the city to house migrants on federal assets
- Reimbursement for the nearly 2,000 National Guard members deployed to shelters around the state
It’s worth noting though, that Hochul did not ask the federal government for shelter locations outside the city. In past interviews Hochul has emphasized that she wants to keep migrants at the large tent shelters in the city, claiming that it is easier to keep track of them and help them with their asylum claims if they are all in one place.
"Scattering people all over the state does not allow us to manage the most important element…which is to start the process to allow them to work because I have the jobs," Hochul said on Monday.
But the Adams administration, in a letter to a judge, has been asking the state for numerous shelter locations on Long Island and upstate New York.
"In our response, we’ve identified areas of focus where additional state support can truly make a difference," a spokesperson for Adams said. "That includes providing and operating state-owned sites inside and outside of New York City that are viable shelter locations, expanding and taking active ownership over the upstate resettlement program, increasing funding for tools that help open capacity in our shelter system, and more."
More than 104,000 migrants have arrived in New York City since last spring and the city is still currently caring for more than 59,000 migrants.
Recently tensions have been building between Mayor Eric Adams and Governor Kathy Hochul as now a court battle over the city’s right-to-shelter mandate is testing their relationship.
Adams has been calling on Hochul to force upstate counties to house migrants through executive action.
But Hochul has been very against this and once again on Thursday said the right-to-shelter mandate does not apply to the rest of the state.
"This is an agreement that does not apply to the state's other 57 counties, which is one of the reasons we cannot and will not force other parts of our state to shelter migrants," Hochul said.
Instead, she argued that the state is helping out of a "moral obligation," citing the more than $1.5 billion the state has allocated to the city.
"I do believe we have a moral imperative to help these new arrivals," Hochul said on Thursday. "I'm grateful to the counties that have welcomed and supported the migrants."
Adams though pushed back on this claim in his statement, saying that the right-to-shelter mandate does indeed apply to the entire state.
"Whatever obligations apply under state law to the City of New York apply with equal force to every county across New York state," Adams said. "Leaving New York City alone to manage this crisis — and abdicating the state’s responsibility to coordinate a statewide response — is unfair to New York City residents who also didn’t ask to be left almost entirely on their own in the middle of a national crisis."
City Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs Manuel Castro also later re-emphasized that the city needs help in sheltering migrants.
"We need support to shelter the next 100,000 of asylum seekers at this rate, with 1000s of asylum seekers arriving each week," Commissioner Castro said.
As part of her speech, Hochul also announced that the state will be launching a new program next month that will connect migrants to jobs, so that as soon as they get their work authorization papers they can start working.