Brooklyn News Review

Biden Admin Questions NY’s Handling of Migrant Crisis, Cites “Structural & Operational Issues”

By:  Hadassa Kalatizadeh

As New York City has been grappling with the arrival of over 100,000 migrants seeking shelter, the city has been imploring the federal government to step in and help with the crisis.

As reported by the NY Times, on Monday the federal government did step in, but mainly to question the city’s handling of the situation, saying it has identified “structural and operational issues”.  Alejandro  Mayorkas, the Homeland Security secretary,  wrote separate letters to NYC Mayor Eric Adams and NYS Gov. Kathy Hochul on Sunday.

“The structural issues include governance and organization of the migrant operations, including issues of authority, structure, personnel, and information flow,” Mr. 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 two-page letters included about two dozen suggested recommendations “to strengthen the city’s migrant operations.”  Per the Times, in addition to the letter, federal officials went into details regarding specifics during a private meeting on Monday with local officials.

So far, the letters’ main effect has been to spark more infighting between Albany and city officials, with each one blaming the other for the shortcomings.  The migrant crisis has left NY’s resources inundated with shelters maxed out above capacity.  Some 200 emergency sites have been opened to accommodate the asylum seekers from the Southern borders.  Democratic leaders have been blame shifting among themselves, with the most pronounced criticism targeting the Biden Administration.   Both city and state officials have been besmirching President Joe Biden, saying he needs to take more aggressive steps to help the crisis.  Last week, Gov. Hochul had delivered a powerful address where she had urged the President to step in, saying that “this crisis originated with the federal government.”

Per the Times, Mr. Mayorkas’s letters said the recommendations were determined by a Department of Homeland Security assessment team which spent four days visiting city shelters and meeting with local officials earlier in August.  Mr. Mayorkas mentioned that the White House recently granted NY’s request to house migrants in a hangar at Kennedy Airport and at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn.  He added that it had identified 11 other federal sites that could be used.

In response to the letters, both Gov. Hochul and Mayor Adams expressed frustration saying the federal government failed to address their main request, which was to expedite permits to allow migrants to work while they await their asylum cases. Currently, migrants need to wait at least 180 days before getting legal work permits.  Avi Small, a spokesman for the governor, said “this crisis will only abate once the federal government takes action on work authorization that allows migrants to be resettled permanently.”  State officials also added that many of the sites the federal government suggested are far from the city, where many migrants wish to be.

City Hall officials also said Mr. Biden could bring relief by declaring a federal emergency, which would add federal funds and the enactment of a national “decompression strategy at the border.”  “New Yorkers deserve the facts, so let’s be clear: Our requests from the federal government remain the same, and quite frankly, unaddressed,” Kayla Mamelak, a spokeswoman for Mr. Adams, said in a statement. “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.”

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