The Biden administration pushed back on criticism that it has not done enough to help New York during the migrant crisis in letters to Gov. Kathy Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams, citing numerous areas where local officials could improve while dashing hopes that feds could offer more help getting asylum seekers into the legal workforce.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas wrote in a pair of letters on Sunday that day-to-day management of the migrants and inadequate data collection are among the structural and operational issues uncovered by his staff during a four-day visit to the city earlier this month.
The letters, which were first reported by Politico, marked the White House’s most detailed public response yet to the city’s struggles dealing with the arrival of more than 104,000 migrants since last spring.
“The structural issues include governance and organization of the migrant operations, including issues of authority, structure, personnel, and information flow,” Mayorkas wrote. “The operational issues include the subjects of data collection, planning, case management, communications, and other aspects of the day-to-day operations.”
The letter comes a month after Adams met with Mayorkas in Washington, D.C. Hochul and Adams were expected to be briefed further on the federal assessment Monday.
Both Adams and Hochul have implored the White House to allow migrants to work legally while they await their asylum applications, a change that they say could help relieve the city’s overburdened shelter system.
But prospects for reform of those rules appear increasingly dim.
“We continue, unfortunately, to work within statutory constraints that do not ably serve our nation’s labor needs,” Mayorkas wrote.
The mayor’s office issued a sharp rebuttal, noting that the city had already opened over 200 emergency shelter sites and spent nearly $2 billion.
“New Yorkers deserve the facts, so let’s be clear: Our requests from the federal government remain the same, and quite frankly, unaddressed,” said Kayla Mamelak, a spokesperson for Adams. “We continue to call on the Biden administration to take the lead in implementing a decompression strategy at the border, expedite pathways to work authorizations for asylum seekers, to declare a state of emergency facilitating swift allocation of federal funds to address our pressing challenges, and to provide more funding to match the reality of the course on the ground. Today’s conversation also did not address the situation on the ground where thousands of asylum seekers continue to arrive in our city with no end in sight.”
Mayorkas, meanwhile, noted that the city had not promptly pursued the use of properties under the control of the federal government, such as a hangar at JFK Airport. A lease finalizing an agreement with the feds for a migrant shelter at Floyd Bennett Field has been delayed by negotiations between the city and state.
Hochul has faced mounting pressure from Adams and homeless advocates to adopt a statewide approach to the migrant crisis. But she also faces opposing interests from conservative voters in other parts of the state who are opposed to welcoming migrants.
Following a Siena College poll that found a majority of voters disapprove of the way she has handled the influx, Hochul delivered a speech where she took a tougher stance on President Joe Biden. She has offered to provide the city with $20 million in aid to help migrants apply for legal work status and create a new state program that would connect them with jobs.
“As Governor Hochul has repeatedly said, this crisis will only abate once the federal government takes action on work authorization that allows migrants to be resettled permanently, and we are grateful to the Department of Homeland Security for today’s informative briefing,” said Avi Small, a spokesperson for Hochul, in a statement Monday.
The Legal Aid Society and the Coalition for the Homeless took all three parties to task, saying the city, state and federal governments were “engaging in endless finger-pointing in the press.”
“The situation is going to continue to get more dire, and real solutions are needed immediately,” they said in a statement.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by PostX News and is published from a syndicated feed.)