By Clayton Guse | October 1, 2023
A top advisor to Mayor Eric Adams on Sunday called for the federal government to “close the borders” in order to prevent more migrants from coming to New York City.
“We need the federal government, the Congress members, the Senate and the president to do its job: close the borders,” Adams’ senior advisor Ingrid Lewis-Martin said during an interview on PIX11. “And until you close the borders, you need to come up with a full-on decompression strategy where you can take all of our migrants and move them throughout all of our 50 states.”
Lewis-Martin’s comments marked an escalation in the rhetoric from the mayor’s office surrounding the city’s migrant crisis. City officials estimate more than 116,000 migrants — primarily asylum-seekers — have come to New York City since April 2022. Lewis-Martin said more than 61,000 migrants remain under the city’s care.
The call to “close the borders” resembled comments made by several right-wing members of Congress who threatened to shut down the federal government if strict border policies were not included in a new funding bill. The lawmakers called for the return of a “remain in Mexico policy” instituted under former President Donald Trump that kept asylum-seekers from entering the country until their cases were processed in court.
Congress approved a temporary funding bill on Saturday night, averting a government shutdown, but did not implement any changes to immigration policies.
Lewis-Martin’s comments also came as the city’s lawyers are challenging New York’s longstanding right-to-shelter law in court, arguing the mandate should not apply to new arrivals.
“The right to shelter was intended for our indigenous homeless pop,” Lewis-Martin said on Sunday. “We argue that we should not have to shelter all of these immigrants.”
Officials have said the city has since last year spent more than $2 billion to care for the new arrivals.
Brooklyn City Councilmember Shahana Hanif posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, speaking out against the remarks.
“These xenophobic Republican talking points have no home in our City,” the post said. “New York has been a welcoming beacon to immigrants for centuries and will always be one, no matter what this administration says.”
Fabien Levy, the city’s deputy mayor for communications, also posted on X later Sunday responding to Lewis-Martin’s remarks.
“To be very clear, and as @NYCMayor has said over and over again, of course this nation should continue to welcome immigrants — both those seeking asylum and those who are not. The U.S. will always do its part to be a country that takes in those seeking refuge from war, discrimination, & strife,” the post said. “But as we’ve stated repeatedly, we need a real decompression strategy at the border so that all communities across the U.S. can do their part in providing the compassion & care NYC has provided to more than 118,000 asylum seekers since last year.”
Gov. Kathy Hochul on Sunday also said the federal government should take more steps to reduce the number of people entering the country — but didn’t go as far as Lewis-Martin in calling for the borders to close.
“We want them to have a limit on who can come across the border,” Hochul said during an appearance on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “It is too open right now. People coming from all over the world are finding their way through simply saying they need asylum and the majority of them seem to be ending up in the streets of New York.”
This story has been updated to include comment from Brooklyn City Councilmember Shahana Hanif and Deputy Mayor of Communications Fabien Levy.