Far fewer buses of migrants are arriving from border states, Mayor Eric Adams said Friday, following a new federal policy to reduce the influx of migrants entering the country.
The number of buses with migrants arriving at the Port Authority Bus Terminal has recently dropped from 10 to two, Adams said in an interview on CNBC’s Squawk Box on Friday morning. A 1,000-bed migrant tent camp opened just this week on Randall’s Island in response to the crisis and is housing just a few asylum seekers. Only three people had arrived at the camp as of Thursday morning.
“I’m happy as heck we only have a handful of people” at Randall’s Island, Adams said in a separate Friday interview with 1010 Wins. “We were really concerned.”
The bus decline follows a new rule announced by the Biden administration earlier this month that is aimed at reducing the number of Venezuelan asylum seekers crossing the border. The regulations force Venezuelans to remain in Mexico unless they can show proof they have supporters in the U.S. who will provide financial support.
Adams suggested Biden’s new policy came in response to City Hall's requests.
“We also sent out a message to the White House that we need to have a real decompression strategy,” he said. “They put that in place.”
More than 21,000 migrants seeking asylum have arrived in New York City in recent months, administration officials told local elected officials in a private Thursday briefing obtained by Gothamist. Many of the new arrivals are Venezuelans without family or connections, bused to the city by elected officials from border states, particularly Texas, as part of a “political stunt,” local officials have said.
The city has opened two humanitarian relief centers to temporarily house and care for asylum seekers, one in the Row Hotel in Midtown and the 84,400 square foot tent camp in a Randall’s Island parking lot.
The Democratic mayor of El Paso, Texas has also stopped sending buses of migrants to New York City, Adams said.
Citing the new federal border policy and fewer unauthorized border crossings, an El Paso city spokesperson told El Paso Matters that two charter buses departing Thursday would be the last. The border town has sent 292 buses carrying over 14,000 migrants to New York City and Chicago since late August, the local publication reported. The city of El Paso did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Gothamist.
City Hall did not respond to a Gothamist request on Friday for data bolstering Adams’ claims, but other city officials and immigrant advocacy groups have recently noted a similar decrease in the number of migrant buses.
Manuel Castro, commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, cautioned elected officials in Thursday’s briefing that it’s too soon to say if the numbers will remain at such a low level in the long term. Other elected officials made similar remarks at a tour of the Randall’s Island migrant camp on Tuesday.
“We are happy to see that the buses seem to be slowing down and we're very appreciative of the Biden administration for that,” said Anne Williams-Isom, deputy mayor for health and human services, during the tour. “But it's only been a couple of days.”
Adams and local agency leaders say the surge in asylum seekers since the spring has severely strained the city’s shelter system and social services. The influx of migrants has set a new record for the number of people living in the city shelter system. On Thursday there were 63,749 people in the shelters. Adams has estimated the migrant crisis could cost the city up to $1 billion this fiscal year.