NEW YORK (1010 WINS/WCBS 880) -- Texas governor Greg Abbott announced Friday that his “overwhelmed” state has begun busing asylum seekers directly to New York City, with the first group of migrants arriving in Manhattan Friday morning as the city struggles to deal with a surge in its shelter population.
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Abbott said in a statement that the first group of migrants seeking asylum was dropped off at Port Authority Bus Terminal's Gate 14 early Friday and that more will be sent.
It wasn't immediately known how many migrants took the 18-hour journey. It’s also unclear where they are headed next, but the city is said to do the intake. 1010 WINS has reached out to the Department of Homeless Services.
The Republican governor said Texas’ border communities are “overwhelmed” and claimed the Biden administration’s “open border policies” are to blame. Texas has already sent dozens of buses to the nation’s capital.
“In addition to Washington, D.C., New York City is the ideal destination for these migrants, who can receive the abundance of city services and housing that Mayor Eric Adams has boasted about within the sanctuary city,” Abbott said in a statement.
“I hope he follows through on his promise of welcoming all migrants with open arms so that our overrun and overwhelmed border towns can find relief,” Abbott continued.
Adams’ press secretary, Fabien Levy, responded to a tweet from Abbott Friday morning, writing that the governor’s “continued use of human beings as political pawns is disgusting” and that the city “will continue to welcome asylum seekers with open arms, as we have always done.”
Levy also said the city suspected Texas was sending busses of migrants to the city well before Friday's announcement. He tweeted that the governor “admits to what we've known he's been doing all along.”
The Legal Aid Society and Coalition for the Homeless released a joint statement reacting to Abbott, saying he is “shamelessly exploiting these migrants—human beings who have endured immense suffering in their home countries and on the journey to the United States, seeking safe haven and a better life—to serve some myopic political purpose.”
The groups called on the city to “ensure that beds and critical services are immediately available to meet any demand” and said they’d be monitoring the situation, including onsite at the city’s shelter intake centers. They also called on the Adams administration to “immediately provide [a] plan for addressing the needs of all migrants arriving in New York City and requiring our help.”
Abbott’s announcement comes days after Adams, a Democrat, took emergency steps to deal with a “significant increase in the number of asylum seekers arriving in our city’s shelter system.”
Adams said Monday that he was “issuing an emergency procurement declaration to rapidly procure additional shelter and services to serve these individuals and families.”
The declaration allows the city to cut some of the usual red tape to negotiate a contract with shelter and service providers.
Legally, the city is supposed to find a safe place for families within a day, which it has struggled to do.
In late July, Adams called on the federal government to "immediately" provide resources for the asylum seekers. He claimed at the time that buses of migrants were being sent to New York by the governors of Texas and Arizona, as well as by the federal government.
At least 4,000 asylum seekers have entered the city’s shelter system since late May, and they are the “primary driver” of a 10% increase in the city’s Department of Homeless Services census, the mayor’s office said.
Despite the strain on resources, Adams reiterated this week that, “New York is a city of immigrants, and we will always welcome newcomers with open arms.”
Some housing activists have said it’s not migrants but a wave of evictions that’s to blame for this summer’s surge in shelter numbers.
"Neighborhoods that were working class and affordable for immigrants and native New Yorkers even a year ago are suddenly seeing an average rent of over $2,000 a month for a one-bedroom apartment," said Joseph Loonam, housing campaign coordinator with VOCAL-NY.
Kathryn Kliff, an attorney with the Legal Aid Society, said while there is an increase in the number of families seeking asylum, it's "not the whole story."
Like Loonam, Kliff said a lot of New Yorkers are losing their housing.
"We always see an increase [in the Homeless Services census] in the summer, so this was especially surprising to us that the city had not planned for an increase in the census," she said. "The summer numbers are certainly going up, but to us, it should not have been a surprise to the city."