NYC to send some asylum seekers upstate, infuriating local leaders, after only securing $30M in federal migrant aid

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New York City will send hundreds of asylum seekers to two upstate hotels to alleviate pressure on the city’s overcrowded shelter and emergency housing systems, Mayor Adams said Friday after learning the city will get less than $31 million in federal aid for the local migrant crisis.

The upstate initiative — which involves Adams’ administration housing migrants in one hotel in Orange County and another in Rockland County — did not receive a warm welcome from elected leaders north of the city.

“This is absurd, and we will not stand for it,” Rockland County Executive Ed Day, a Republican, said in response to Adams’ announcement.

“There is nothing humanitarian about a sanctuary city sending busloads of people to a county that does not have the infrastructure to care for them. It’s the same as throwing them in the middle of the ocean with nowhere to swim.”

Day claimed he had learned Adams’ administration plans to house 340 adult male migrants at the Armoni Inn and Suites in Rockland’s Orangeburg for four months in hopes that they can obtain U.S. work permits and get integrated into the local community.

Adams spokesman Fabien Levy said Day was mistaken in his tally of the immigrants who’d be sent to Rockland County.

The city plans to house 300 migrants total between the Armoni Inn and another hotel in the Orange County city of Newburgh. Levy noted that the administration may scale the program later on, though.

Orange County Executive Stefan Neuhaus, a Republican, did not immediately return a request for comment.

The upstate transfers will be voluntary, and migrants will only be able to stay at the hotels for four months at a time, city officials said. The hotels they’ll stay at will operate in a similar fashion to the city’s Humanitarian Emergency Relief and Response Centers, where migrants can access some health care and social services, according to city officials.

Word of the upstate effort came after it became clear earlier in the day that Adams’ administration will receive just $30.5 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s first round of funding set aside for U.S. jurisdictions feeling the strain of the national migrant crisis.

That’s a drop in the bucket of the $1.4 billion that Adams’ administration estimates it will have spent by July 1 on housing, feeding and providing services for the more than 60,000 mostly Latin American migrants who’ve arrived in New York since last spring.

“This is both disappointing and woefully insufficient for a city that has carried the cost of sheltering, feeding, and supporting more than 60,000 asylum seekers in the last year,” Levy said of the FEMA allocation. “New Yorkers have stepped up tremendously throughout this crisis and we look forward to working closely with our congressional delegation to remedy this serious mistake.”

Adams, who despite being a Democrat has criticized President Biden’s administration in an increasingly heated manner lately over the migrant crisis, said in a statement that the upstate hotel program is the result of “a vacuum of leadership” on the federal level.

“New York City has been left without the necessary support to manage this crisis,” he said.

Murad Awawdeh, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition, said Adams has partially himself to blame.

The failure to secure more funds from the feds is a sign that Adams’ administration is “incompetent,” Awawdeh said, arguing that his administration filed its application with FEMA “incredibly late” — just four days before the deadline, as previously reported by the Daily News.

The effort to shuttle migrant upstate, meantime, is “irresponsible” and “Abbott-like,” Awawdeh added, a reference to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who Adams has criticized for busing migrants to the city.

“It’s unfortunate that this is the step the mayor is taking at the moment. Instead of prioritizing getting people out of emergency shelter and into affordable housing, he’s moving them further away from the services they need,” Awawdeh said. “We don’t want the city of New York participating in an Abbott-like busing situation. It’s irresponsible.”

The FEMA allocation for the city comes from a $350 million program set up to reimburse jurisdictions and non-profits across the U.S. that have helped accommodate the waves of migrants crossing into the country from the southern border.

Though the Big Apple is believed to have accommodated far more migrants than any other U.S. city, its award only clocks in at third place of all jurisdictions in line for cash from the FEMA program, funding documents show.

Above the city on the FEMA aid ladder are Catholic Charities of San Diego, which is getting $33.6 million, and Catholic Charities of San Antonio, Texas, which is getting $39.7 million, according to the documents.

The city of El Paso, Texas, which is where many migrants first arrive when they cross into the U.S. from Mexico, is set for $22.1 million from the FEMA program. However, the county of El Paso will get a separate allocation of $17.4 million, putting the total award for the border jurisdiction at $39.5 million — also more than New York City.

In its application, Adams’ administration asked FEMA to funnel the entire $350 million allocation into New York City’s coffers, arguing its need for relief surpasses all other jurisdictions in the country. The administration’s application also asked for an extra $300 million from unspecified sources.

The doling out of FEMA funds comes as the U.S. braces for the May 11 expiration of Title 42, a controversial Trump-era policy that prevented many Latin American migrants from seeking asylum in the U.S.

Adams has said he expects the end of Title 42 to exacerbate the pace of migrant arrivals in the city. He has also blamed the financial burden of the migrant crisis for the various city agency spending cuts he’s seeking as part of this year’s budget negotiations with the City Council.

Once the $350 million has been disbursed, FEMA is expected to get to work at setting up an application portal where U.S. cities can apply for a separate $450 million pot of migrant-related relief.

Beyond the feds, Adams’ administration has received a commitment from Gov. Hochul’s administration for $1 billion in migrant-related relief.

But the mayor has made clear he does not think that’s nearly enough as his administration estimates it will shell out $4.3 billion migrant costs by July 2024.

Day, the Rockland County executive, said that while he opposes Adams’ push to send migrants upstate, he agrees Biden’s administration must do more.

“This screams out for solutions on the federal level pertaining to our broken immigration system,” he said. “Any federal lawmakers in support of this and Mayor Adams are not doing these folks any favors, quite the opposite; you’re not helping people, you’re hurting people.”