By Germania Rodriguez Poleo | November 2, 2023
Five Democratic mayors headed to Washington DC this morning to beg the Biden administration for a staggering $5 billion in federal funds – but shortly after arriving, New York City’s Eric Adams abruptly and mysteriously returned home.
The liberal mayors of New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Denver and Houston have joined forces to demand the White House step in as their cities become overwhelmed with thousands of new migrants arriving every day.
While Biden has asked Congress for $1.4billion to help local governments shelter and aid migrants, the five mayors said in a letter they would need a whopping $5billion.
Before the crisis crippled their cities, the five mayors made welcoming migrants a central part of their political image.
Also Read: What Adams missed in D.C.
But in an abrupt U-turn, they said in their letter: ‘Our cities need additional resources that far exceed the amount proposed in order to properly care for the asylum seekers entering our communities.
‘Relying on municipal budgets is not sustainable and has forced us to cut essential city services.’
Adams is perhaps the mayor who has been most vocal about the migrant crisis after the city has been overwhelmed with new arrivals, saying the situation could ‘destroy’ the Big Apple. He was scheduled to lobby DC officials with the other mayors, but rushed back to NYC just minutes before a meeting was supposed to take place to deal with an unspecified matter.
More than 2 million people crossed the border illegally between October 2022 and September 2023, according to Border Patrol data.
The surge of migrants in these cities is partly due to Texas governor Greg Abbott‘s initiative of sending asylum seekers who cross the Mexico-US border to Democratic sanctuary cities in an attempt to highlight what he sees as open-border policies.
And the Republican’s controversial program seems to be serving its purpose, as the Democratic officials who are proponents of sanctuary cities have seemingly changed their welcoming attitude – both in public statements and in their policies.
NEW YORK CITY
New York has by far received the highest number of migrants of any other northern city – over 120,000 in just 18 months. Mayor Eric Adams first welcomed migrants sent north by Abbot, going to Port Authority to personally receive the first buses.
Speaking to reporters in August 2022, the mayor said: ‘As the mayor of New York, I have to provide services families that are here, and that’s what we’re going to do – our responsibility as a city, and I’m proud that this is a Right to Shelter state, and we’re going continue to do that.’
But the buses kept coming, and a year later, Adams is pleading for federal and state aid – asking a judge to suspend the Right to Shelter policy and limiting stays for migrants staying in the city’s care. The city is currently taking care of more than 60,000 migrants in hundreds of emergency shelters.
The city has signed over $5billion in nearly 200 contracts for migrant services since last year when he declared a state of emergency. Adams has said the crisis will cost the city $12billion over three years, and has warned New Yorkers will see their services affected by budget cuts to deal with the situation.
In May Adams made major changes to the 40-year-old ‘Right to Shelter’ law that guarantees a bed for anyone who needs it in the city, as his government asked for federal and state help to deal with the surge of migrants that he now says could destroy New York as we know it.
‘This issue will destroy New York City,’ Adams has said of the influx of asylum seekers.
Adams has even traveled to South America in his attempts to tell migrants to stay away from New York. His government has also sent fliers to the border saying the city is ‘at capacity’ and has an expensive cost of living.
In Denver, over 24,000 migrants have arrived since last year, putting pressure on the city’s shelter systems which have run out of space.
The city is spending $2 million a week housing about 2,510 migrants staying in temporary shelters – and has spent about $26 million total on the crisis.
Mayor Mike Johnston has remained fairly pro-immigration on his public remarks, saying the main issue is the migrants can’t work legally as he requests funds and work permits from the federal government.
However, behind closed doors, the city government has signaled that the city is at capacity and cannot handle more new arrivals.
Last month the local government asked officials at border towns to distribute fliers telling asylum seekers to stay away from the Colorado capital, after 21,000 new migrants arrived this year.
Matthew Mueller, the executive director for the Office of Emergency Management, asked officials in Brownsville, El Paso, Houston, and Dallas to let migrants know Denver ‘can no longer provide the same level of sheltering resources to newly arriving persons.’
The fliers include messages such as: ‘Denver’s resources have been exhausted,’ ‘the city cannot provide shelter long-term’ and ‘housing in Denver is very expensive and there aren’t many affordable housing options available.’
Additionally, NYC mayor Adams accused Colorado’s Democrat governor Jared Polis in January of launching an ‘unfair’ plan to send an influx of migrants to the Big Apple. According to The Colorado Sun, at least 6,739 migrants were bused to other cities like Chicago and New York.
The city has also asked for assistance from the Colorado National Guard, but because there is no state of emergency declared, state officials sent civilian employees instead, as reported by The Denver Post.
Chicago has received over 17,000 migrants this year, and the city’s leaders have warned of a humanitarian crisis unfolding, with officials saying daily arrivals in the Windy City have increased tenfold over the last weeks.
Asylum seekers have been sleeping in airports and police stations as the sanctuary city’s shelters are out of room.
Governor JB Pritzker and mayor Brandon Johnson wrote a letter to president Biden saying the situation has overwhelmed the city an its ability to help the asylum seekers. They are asking the federal government for financial aid and to waive fees for migrants’ work authorization.
‘Double the number of Ukrainian refugees have arrived in Chicago. The difference is that those Ukrainian refugees have federal dollars to follow them. We are not seeing that with Venezuelan refugees,’ said 35th Ward Alderman Carlos Ramirez Rosa, according to ABC7.
Chicago residents have opposed turning landmarks into emergency shelters, with some even asking city officials to close the city’s borders as mayor Johnson quietly signed a $29million contract with a security firm to build migrant base camps.
The border crisis has also sparked a surge of migrants in California, as increasing numbers of migrants from South America – and all over the world, including China – move quickly through the Darien Gap between Colombia and Panama before heading north.
By September, 420,000 migrants, aided by Colombian smugglers, had passed through the gap in the year to date, Panamanian figures showed. That surge, as well as the buses from southern conservative states have seen an influx of asylum seekers in LA.
As recently as June, the Los Angeles city council voted to make LA a sanctuary city, meaning officials are banned from using any resources to enforce federal immigration laws. California was already a sanctuary state.
But the next month the same city council In August asked whether the city could sue Texas over the busing program.
Mayor Karen Bass has slammed governor Abbott for sending migrants to Los Angeles, initially claiming the initiative would not change how the city welcomes new arrivals.
‘Los Angeles is not a city motivated by hate or fear and we absolutely will not be swayed or moved by petty politicians playing with human lives,” Bass said in September.
‘We are a city that seeks to treat all people with dignity and compassion and we will continue to work closely with non-profit organizations… This did not catch us off guard, nor will it intimidate us. Now, it’s time to execute our plan.’
But just a week later, Bass admitted she was ‘fearful’ that planes full of migrants would start arriving.
‘We live in a city that welcomes immigrants, and so I think we have been able to handle it, but I am fearful that any day, planes could start coming,’ Bass said.
While she continues saying LA has been able to handle the influx, she is one of the mayors headed to DC.
The southwestern border has also struggled to cope and naturally affected Houston, America’s most racially-diverse city.
The Texas capital was listed as the destination for 15,416 people when they crossed the border into the US this year, according to data from Syracuse University’s TRAC immigration database.
Mayor Sylvester Turner has put his pro-immigration views at the center of his political persona, but he’s one of the Democrats traveling to DC to ring the alarm about the migrant crisis.
On his website, he says: ‘I am proud to also promote our inclusivity. Regardless of where someone is from, who they are, or what they believe, there is a home for them in Houston. Our city’s future as a global leader depends on immigrants.’
But Turner has signed at least two letters asking Biden for help in what he has described as an ‘unprecedented crisis.’
In a May letter signed with LA’s Karen Bass, NY’s Adams, and Denver’s previous mayor Michael Hancock, Turner demanded federal aid as they admitted the expiration of Title 41 would put additional strain on their cities.
The mayors said: ‘This is a matter of grave importance to us as we are experiencing a dramatic influx of asylum seekers and anticipate even more after May 11th.’
They also said they wanted to ‘avoid a scenario in which large numbers of additional asylum seekers are brought to our cities.’