New York City to launch 24/7 arrival center for asylum seekers

New York City will soon be launching a 24/7 arrival center for asylum seekers and creating a new agency to oversee the migrant crisis, called the Office of Asylum Seeker Operations.  

Nearly 50,000 asylum seekers have arrived in New York since last spring, with more than 30,000 still in the city’s care.

This surge is impacting almost every municipality service and costing the city $5 million a day to house and care for these migrants.

The person who will lead this new Office of Asylum Seeker Operations, will be chosen by the deputy mayor.

"The individual that the deputy mayor determines will now coordinate the entire effort, instead of having to be coordinated through several different agencies," New York City Mayor Eric Adams said.

The Adams administration also wants to move the asylum seeker processing center from the Port Authority Bus Terminal and create a 24/7 intake center.

The city would not say where this intake center would open, nor when it will open. However, some of the volunteer nonprofit groups who operate out of the welcome center at the Port Authority are concerned.

"We’re the only organization that has been on the ground doing this kind of work since day one," Power Malu, founder of Artists-Athletes-Activists, explained.

 Malu said they have been operating out of the Port Authority since July, connecting asylum seekers to food, shelter, legal services, school enrollment officers and more.

If a migrant is at a shelter and not receiving meals, Malu said they will often return to this site at Port Authority because they know they will be able to find help.

However, Malu said his nonprofit has been cut out of any of the mayor’s plans for this new 24/7 intake center.

He said that having a hub at Port Authority has been critical in connecting with new arrivals.

"To hear that there's something happening 24/7, it's a great idea, something we've been advocating for and we love it," Malu said. "But it shouldn't mean that we are leaving, because this is one of the main points of entry and it has become a safe place for people to know that they are going to get the help that they need."

The mayor also released a blueprint for how the city plans to tackle the migrant crisis moving forward, including training asylum seekers for new jobs and relocating them to different cities across the state and country.

Adams did not specify where the migrants would be relocated. 

"There are many cities within the state and across the country that are saying they want to help," Adams said. "And no please don't ask me which cities because I don’t need you guys running to the cities and stopping us from getting asylum seekers there."

City council is only setting aside right now an additional $1.2 million and the state is setting aside around $1 billion. Both still have to be approved in the budget process.

But Adams said that is not nearly enough and is also calling on the federal government to come up with a real immigration strategy.

"This crisis is not a New York crisis, this the United States crisis," Adams said. "And it's time for our national government to play the role."