NEW YORK - The migrant crisis in New York City has reached its breaking point, with asylum seekers camped out on the sidewalk since this weekend, lining Roosevelt Hotel, the city’s migrant intake center.
"The question is not what New York City is not doing," Deputy Mayor Anne Williams-Isom said at a press briefing. "It's why is no one else doing anything?"
The federal government so far has done very little to aid New York City in this migrant crisis.
Mayor Eric Adams traveled recently to Washington DC to meet with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who pledged to send a representative to the city in order to observe this crisis up close.
Since last spring, over 95,000 migrants have passed through New York City and now due to overcrowding at the city’s shelters, many new arrivals are having to wait in the streets for shelter space to open up.
"We need some support," Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom said. "And now New Yorkers have seen what that means and what that looks like. It's heartbreaking."
The city has opened 194 shelter sites and 13 humanitarian relief centers and officials say when it comes to new sites, all options are on the table including migrant shelter tents in Central Park or Randall’s Island.
Many experts and lawmakers have argued that President Joe Biden could act tomorrow and through executive action grant migrants expedited work permits.
Certain immigrants are already allowed to work legally in the US, through a program called Temporary Protected Status. However, many city, state and federal lawmakers have been calling for months for this program to be expanded.
We caught up with U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand who outlined at least three ways the White House could act quickly on this crisis. This includes expanding welcome centers across the city which have resources to help migrants, grant more migrants emergency work authorization and direct additional federal resources to help house and feed these asylum seekers.
But we asked, what’s Plan B?
"So we wrote a letter this week," Senator Gillibrand said. "I urge the Biden administration to work with us towards an emergency authorization."
However we asked : "But Senator, you've been writing letters for a while now, why hasn't the White House been listening to you and other elected officials?"
"They’re listening," Gillibrand insisted. "They're listening. They’re taking meetings. …What has to happen truly is this. We have to flip the House of Representatives so that we actually have a majority."
But the 2024 election is over a year away and there are no guarantees Democrats will be able to take back control of the House, much less retain control of the Senate. It also has been decades since Congress has enacted comprehensive immigration reform.
We also pressured Congressman Jerry Nadler about why the White House is not acting on this crisis.
"They’re doing what they can," Congressman Nadler said. "Of course, the real solution is comprehensive immigration reform which we've been trying to do for decades, but the Republicans in the Senate keep blocking it."
The Adams administration seemed somewhat surprised by these responses from federal leaders.
"Ooooh…I think you should answer that for yourself," Williams-Isom said in response. "We get 2,300 people a week. I can only speak to what we’re doing here in New York City. And I can guarantee New Yorkers that we're going to put our blood sweat and tears into this and we're going to do the best that we can."
City officials say they have now handed out over 800 notices to migrants staying in city shelters saying they have 60 days to find new housing. If they can’t, then they will have to re-apply for shelter space.