Illegal immigrants may soon be housed at a facility on Randall’s Island as New York City struggles to meet the demands created by an influx of migrants.
Mayor Eric Adams announced on Aug. 7 that more than 57,200 people who are seeking asylum are being cared for by New York City and, with aid from the state government, a new humanitarian relief center would be opened on Randall’s Island. The new facility will house up to 2,000 adults.
“As the number of asylum seekers in our care continues to grow by hundreds every day, stretching our system to its breaking point and beyond, it has become more and more of a Herculean effort to find enough beds every night,” said Adams in his statement. “We’re grateful to [Governor Kathy Hochul] and New York state for their partnership in opening this new humanitarian relief center and covering the costs, and we need more of the same from all levels of government.”
Among the service offered, the staff at the Randall’s Island facility will help the migrants “reach their desired destination.”
“New York has opened 194 sites to house newcomers, including hotel ballrooms, former jails and an airport warehouse,” reports The New York Times. “The plan is to open a tent city in the parking lot of a psychiatric center in Queens soon.”
“New York City, the epicenter of the free world, is on the frontlines of a humanitarian crisis,” said Zach Iscol, the city’s Emergency Management Commissioner, on Aug. 7. “We must also be honest that we have passed our breaking point and it’s beyond time for others to step up: This is clearly a national issue that calls for national leadership and a cohesive, robust national response.”
Adams announced in late July that the city had “reached full capacity” with 300 to 500 migrants arriving each day. New York funded the distribution of flyers at the U.S.-Mexico border that aim to discourage immigrants from traveling to the city. The flyer warns that housing is “very expensive,” as is the “cost of food, transportation, and other necessities.”
The Gothamist reported on Aug. 2 that Adams is considering setting up tents for migrants in public parks across the city including Central Park and Prospect Park
New York City’s Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Anne Williams-Isom told reporters on July 31 that housing migrants in public parks has been under consideration for some time but did not say when the encampments might be constructed.
Wiliams-Isom called the influx of illegal immigrants a “humanitarian crisis” while speaking at a press briefing in May, where she estimated that more than 44,700 people seeking asylum were being cared for by the city.
“We have done and will do all we can to support asylum seekers, but we can’t do this alone,” she said. “Given that the city is unable to provide care for an unlimited number of people and is already over extended, it is in the best interest of everyone, including those seeking to come to the United States, to be upfront that New York City cannot single-handedly provide care to everyone crossing our border.”
Williams-Isom said the Office of Asylum Seeker wants to “focus more on exits and resettlement.”