NEW YORK (NewsNation) — New York City is preparing to open humanitarian relief centers to assure the asylum seekers arriving from Texas and other border states have access to all the available resources, officials said.
The sites will offer medical care, food, shelter and job services, and help migrants connect with family and friends. The first relief center will be opening in Orchard Beach in the coming weeks and another at an undetermined location, according to the mayor’s office.
“While other leaders have abdicated their moral duty to support arriving asylum seekers, New York City refuses to do so,” said NYC Mayor Eric Adams. “This is not an everyday homelessness crisis, but a humanitarian crisis that requires a different approach.”
Officials will try to have the buses bypass Port Authority and go directly to the relief centers. The migrants who are unable to find immediate housing will be able to stay at the centers for about one to four days, officials said.
“These are reminiscent of the tent cities we see in war-torn countries, where the conditions mirror the Third World,” New York Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz (D-Queens) told Gothamist. Cruz is a former “Dreamer” who was previously undocumented. “We are one of the richest cities, in one of the richest states, in one of the richest countries. This plan is completely unacceptable and raises too many concerns about the physical wellbeing of asylum seekers.”
So far, about 13,000 asylum seekers have arrived in New York City since April. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has taken credit for busing 2,500 migrants to the city from the southern border. About 10,000 of them have been sheltered by the city at a cost that breaks down to around $1.6 million per day.
The commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, Manuel Castro, said Wednesday the city has opened around 25 new shelter locations to accommodate the new arrivals. He said, on average, about two-thirds of the migrants who have been arriving in the city have chosen to stay.
The border in EL Paso, Texas sees more than 1,500 migrants at day crossing into the U.S. from Mexico.
The sudden unannounced arrival of migrants to the mission has been a “budget buster” at El Paso Rescue Mission. Blake Borrow, the organization’s CEO, said their food supply is critically low. He needs help, but he’s determined to keep the mission open and operating.
“The rescue mission over a period of a week had as many as 500 migrants from Venezuela,” Borrow said. “It’s like you’re preparing a dinner for 120 people and all of a sudden with 30 minutes’ notice you have 300 guests.”
Borrow says buses leave El Paso almost daily headed to places like New York City, and he says no one is being forced to go.
“About 20 percent are saying they want to go to New York City,” he said. “At least to my knowledge there has not been anyone going to New York City that did not want to be there.”
Borrow says the migrants want to go to cities like Atlanta, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Dallas and Los Angeles — cities where they believe they can find jobs and reconnect with family members.
“We’re going to help them, and God bless every one of you that does,” he said.
Borrow says some of the migrants have indicated they want to go to Florida and he’s advised them that’s probably not a good idea because their stay could be a very short one, as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is putting migrants on planes and sending them to the Northeast.
NewsNation affiliate WPIX contributed to this report.