After an over two-hour meeting with White House top aides, Gov. Kathy Hochul said Wednesday she pressed the White House to find a path to get more asylum seekers employed.
“I want to make sure they understand the urgency … calling for more federal action. This is a federal problem,” Hochul told Spectrum News’ Kevin Frey in an exclusive interview.
“I walked out of there with a sense they are committed, they understand that a lot of time has passed, and that this situation has only grown more dire,” she said about the meeting.
According to Hochul, starting Thursday, asylum seekers who have the U.S. Customs and Border of Protections app will receive app notifications about their work status.
“They think that’s going to address a significant number of people to tell them ‘you need to apply for work status’ or ‘you are already eligible.’ We’ll work with them,” she said
She added that this may be one way to deal with the people in shelters, but it’s not the “ultimate solution.”
According to Hochul, the White House said they will “surge resources,” meaning that in the next couple of weeks, DHS staffers will arrive in Manhattan and “make themselves available to allow us to start processing thousands of people so they can apply to asylum legally.”
“That’s one way of dealing with it, is letting them work, which has been my call to action,” Hochul said.
The meeting follows a letter in which Hochul called on President Joe Biden and the federal government for more assistance in dealing with the influx of migrants in the state.
Among those who attended the Wednesday meeting were White House Chief of Staff Jeff Zients, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and a number of senior team members “hired to respond to our letter,” Hochul said.
“I reinforce my message, which I said back with labor leaders, government leaders, business leaders, the mayor, back in May: Let them work,” Hochul added.
In a statement Wednesday night, the White House said it is committed to continuing to have these conversations and called on Congress to adequately resource programs to support communities receiving migrants and to pass immigration reform.”
“The Administration requested $600 million additional for the Shelter and Services Program in the Supplemental, and we continue to call on Congress to fulfil that request,” the White House said.
Mayor Eric Adams, who usually has a good working relationship with Hochul, offered criticism on the state’s response to the migrant influx Tuesday.
“I think on this issue, the governor is wrong. She’s the governor of the state of New York. New York City is in that state. Every county in that state should be a part of this,” Adams said Tuesday.
City leaders have also been calling for the Biden administration to expedite work authorizations for migrants.
“We need our state and national partners to step up when it comes to declaring this the emergency that it is, accelerating the approval of work authorization, running shelters and sites, and providing additional funding to support this effort,” Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Services Anne Williams-Isom said at a Wednesday news conference on asylum seekers.
Williams-Isom announced that the city will be hosting a rally Thursday morning at Foley Square to call on the federal government to expedite work authorization for asylum seekers. Adams is expected to attend.
“New York City has a proud history of supporting immigrants and the right to work,” she said.
Since June, the city’s asylum seeker application help center has helped file more than 3,000 federal asylum applications in an effort to help migrants receive work authorizations, Williams-Isom said.
Last month, Adams announced that the city will limit stays at shelters for single adult migrants to 60 days. Williams-Isom on Wednesday said the city has handed out 6,300 notices so far.
As of Aug. 27, there are 59,400 asylum seekers in the city’s care, according to City Hall.
More than 107,300 asylum seekers have come through the city’s intake system since last spring, officials said.
The city has opened 207 sites, including 15 humanitarian relief centers.
Between Aug. 21 and 27, more than 2,900 new asylum seekers entered the city’s care, city officials said.