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What Mayor Adams Said About Asylum Seekers in his State of the City Address

At his State of the City address on Thursday: Mayor Eric Adams said more than 42,000 asylum seekers have arrived in New York City since last spring. The City has assisted them with shelter, food, education, healthcare and legal support, Adams said. He said the City will continue to do its part but still needs “everyone else to do their part as well,” asking residents to also commit one hour of their time to give assistance or provisions to those in need of help.

“This is an all hands on deck moment,” he said. The mayor also asked for support from other cities and the federal government to continue aiding asylum seekers.

“We cannot do this alone,” Adams added. “The asylum seeker seeker crisis is a national crisis, and it should not be just for New York City residents. That’s just unfair.”

Mayor Adams said that the situation was also “unfair” for the asylum seekers coming to the City. “You come here to pursue the American dream, not to live in a nightmare. …the asylum seekers deserve better.”

The day before, Adams said the City’s right-to-shelter law doesn’t apply to asylum seekers: He said although courts ruled NYC is a sanctuary city and there’s an obligation to fulfill it, his administration does not believe asylum seekers fall into the “right-to-shelter conversation.”

Immigrants’ rights advocates aren’t pleased with the mayor’s constantly shifting position on asylum seekers.

“It is the NYC Mayor’s job to follow our laws including our Right-to-Shelter law. It’s not up to him to decide who can be excluded based on how they got here,” the New York Immigration Coalition said in a tweet. “Seems like his latest tactic to avoid fixing our shelter system — a crisis hurting too many NY families.”

Health care for migrants: Adams went on to say the City will continue to help newly arrived migrants and is furthering its commitment to all residents across boroughs. 

He also said New York City would be the first city in the country to give “free, comprehensive health care” to New Yorkers who have spent more than seven days in the Department of Homeless Services shelters. “We’re not going to wait for people in crisis to show up at the ER; we will provide the care they need, when they need it,” Mayor Adams said. The City will be working with state and federal partners to achieve this. 

Advocates fire back: Following Adams’ State of the City address, the New York Immigration Coalition released a statement saying: “Mayor Adams barely mentioned immigrants and asylum seekers, and largely excluded them from his vision for NYC.”

The advocacy group also said the Mayor’s preliminary budget delivers “the bare minimum to low-income and working families, and does little to ensure immigrant New Yorkers and our newest arrivals are able to fully integrate and thrive in our communities. Yet, the Mayor continues to scapegoat asylum seekers for an austerity budget that is sure to hurt all New Yorkers.”

This summary about the 2023 State of the City address was featured in Documented’s Early Arrival newsletter. You can subscribe to receive it in your inbox three times per week here.

New York

Adams: Right-to-shelter law doesn’t apply to asylum seekers: Although courts ruled NYC has an obligation to fulfill its sanctuary city promise, Mayor Eric Adams said his administration does not believe asylum seekers fall into the “right-to-shelter conversation.” — New York Daily News

These workers can’t get unemployment. What would it look like for NY to cover them? The state’s proposed Unemployment Bridge Program would help people in sectors with large numbers of immigrant workers, such as day laborers and domestic workers. — lohud

Documented’s Amir Khafgy discusses the systemic issues exposed by the Bronx fire: On the In the Thick podcast, Amir explained the fire echoed racial disparities that have plagued New York for decades, and also highlighted a recent story he wrote for Documented.  — In The Thick/Futuro Media

Around the U.S. 

Mass shootings in California heighten immigrants’ fears of U.S. gun violence: In California, 32% of Asian immigrants and 23% of Latino immigrants  say they are “very worried” about becoming victims of gun violence in their adopted home — three times the level of fear reported by U.S. citizens. — Reuters

Afghan soldier seeking asylum freed from immigration hold: Lawyers, lawmakers and military organizations who advocated to free Wasi Safi say his case highlights how America’s withdrawal from Afghanistan continues to harm Afghan citizens who helped the U.S. — Associated Press

New Mexico bill would ban new contracts for migration detention: The state bill would only affect state and local government-owned facilities, and not two detention facilities owned and operated by CoreCivic. — Associated Press

Chicago’s Elmhurst History Museum hosts exhibit exploring immigration: Chicago’s immigration history is the focus of a new exhibit at the museum: “In Pursuit of Happiness: Immigrants in Our Communities”. — CBS News

Washington D.C.

Biden admin. proposing new ‘Latino’ and ‘Middle Eastern or North African’ checkboxes for forms: The recommendations come from a group of career civil servants who have been reviewing how to make data produced by the U.S. government better reflect the country’s diversity. — NPR

U.S. population growth will be driven entirely by immigration within two decades: The Congressional Budget Office forecasts a population of 373 million by 2053 — about 3 million more than the CBO was expecting a year ago. — Bloomberg (Paywall)

Border crossings fall by migrants from Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Haiti: The Biden administration credited the drop to border enforcement measures it rolled out this month, which advocates have criticized. — The New York Times

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