Mayor Eric Adams gave President Joe Biden and his administration a forceful message on Wednesday, as the mayor urged the White House to immediately authorize work permits for asylum seekers.
“Washington. It is time to respond. Enough is enough. New Yorkers deserve better,” Adams said at a press conference.
Approximetely 55,000 migrants have entered the city’s shelter system over the past year, with more than 34,000 asylum seekers currently in the city’s care, according to the mayor.
Currently, asylum seekers have a six-month waiting period before they can legally work.
Adams noted that the ability to work is a top priority for asylum seekers.
“They don’t want our free shelter. They don’t want free food. They don’t want free clothing. They’re saying, 'Can we work?'” Adams said.
Adams noted that due to a lack of work authorization permits, migrants have been forced to rely on illegal forms of employment.
City officials also called for extending immigration programs like Temporary Protected Status and humanitarian parole for asylum seekers, programs that allow migrants to remain in the U.S. for safety reasons.
Adams also called for an increase in staffing at immigration offices to reduce the processing time of asylum applications.
“We have a heavy influx, but we don’t have the population and the personnel to process them,” Adams said.
In response, a White House official in a statement pointed to the need for Congress to act on immigration reform.
“Individuals who arrive in the United States under our expanded parole programs are eligible for work authorization. Our administration has also used existing tools, like Temporary Protected Status, for certain populations. But none of these administrative tools are a substitute for congressional action. We need Congress to act. Only they can reform and modernize our decades-old immigration laws,” the official said in an emailed response on Wednesday.
Adams’ call comes as Title 42, an immigration policy that allows federal officials to expel asylum seekers from entering the country during a public health emergency, is set to expire in May.
Currently, about 200 migrants are arriving daily to the city but that number is expected to grow next month.
“Thousands of people are waiting at the border and potentially end up in New York City,” Adams said before admonishing the Biden administration for their lack of help. “Why are you doing this to New York? The national government has turned its back on New York City.”
Meanwhile, the city has spent about $817 million sheltering and feeding asylum seekers and is said to be on track to spend $1.4 billion by June.
Adams is expected to visit Washington on Friday for a conference. He will also meet with several White House administration officials to talk about asylum seekers.