"I want to fly from the dirty boulevard." — Lou Reed
There are no heroes—or beds—in the migrant crisis that is gripping New York City and refusing to let go.
Over the last year, over 61,000 people have crossed the Mexican border and ended up in New York City. Many of them are sad props in a shell game created by Texas authorities who simply put their newest residents on a Greyhound bus and shipped them to Midtown.
In a city where everyone is legally guaranteed a right to a roof over their heads, the migrant influx has become a budget bomb, with Mayor Adams and his team desperately searching for space for the newcomers. City Hall’s initial response was herky-jerky at best, with a tent city being erected on Randalls Island last fall for 1,000 migrants but then being shut down after being in operation for less than a month.
The search for beds has led City Hall to Rockland and Orange counties, where two hotels were targeted to be home to about 300 men. Given little notice about the plan, local leaders went ballistic. In a radio interview, amped-up Rockland County Executive Ed Day vowed to grab Mayor Adams “by the throat” to keep out the migrants. Treating this like a natural disaster that is bearing down on the county, a state of emergency has been declared in Rockland in an effort to prevent hotels from accepting any migrants.
The milk of human kindness was more in evidence with at least a couple of residents who spoke with NY1’s Kelly Mena.
“We have to take pressure off the city at this point and find a place to house these people so they’re comfortable,” Dirk Snowden told her.
Whether or not NIMBYism triumphs in the Hudson Valley, 300 hotel rooms in Rockland and Orange counties clearly aren’t the linchpin of Mayor Adams’ plan. Despite being political pals with President Biden, the mayor has repeatedly expressed his frustration with the White House and is calling on the president to expedite the process to allow the migrants to work legally. In turn, the White House has punted to Congress—which is like kicking a football down a black hole.
Almost all of this predictable finger-pointing ignores the fact that the vital ingredient in New York’s success story has been immigrants. Almost every Irish-American New Yorker is the descendant of someone who was fleeing a potato famine in the 19th Century (And they hardly saw a welcome wagon when they made it to Manhattan).
Likewise, every single national or ethnic group in New York City has a horrible origin story that is conveniently forgotten whenever any member of that group starts talking about figuring out a way to keep out the migrants. Almost all of us are the descendants of the unwanted.
We can fight over whether or not we should extend the ladder of opportunity to others, but one thing is almost certain: the son or daughter of someone sleeping in one of these hotels will help run the city in a few decades.