Comments from Mayor Eric Adams during his recent trip to the southern border have drawn criticism from a group of elected officials and immigrant advocates.
At a news conference Thursday morning, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said it was "very vital that we all come together to support the newest and aspiring New Yorkers."
Williams was joined by advocates who say they want asylum seekers to know they are welcome here. They say they oppose the rhetoric they believe pits struggling New Yorkers against migrants arriving to the city by the busload.
“New York cannot take more. We can’t," the mayor said while visiting the border in El Paso, Texas, over the weekend.
Mayor Adams softened his remarks later in the week at City Hall, saying, “We have no more room, but we’re still finding spaces and accommodating.”
“We have to actively choose to communicate words that unite those who are suffering not allow the adoption of an us vs. them mindset,” Williams said.
While critical of the Adams administration’s handling of the migrant crisis, the group agreed with the mayor on one thing: More help is needed from both state and federal government.
They echoed calls for more funding, infrastructure and legislative change to help meet the needs of the crisis.
“I hear over and over again, 'Help us get our working papers, help us get legal services,' 'cause they are here to hit the ground running and they are trying to start a life here that means they are a New Yorker,” City Councilmember Julie Won said.
According to the mayor’s office, more than 40,000 migrants have arrived since the spring. The office estimates it could cost the city $2 billion.
“This should be a moment of unity, not one that pits asylum seekers against others,” City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams said later in the day at City Hall.
City Comptroller Brad Lander said alongside Williams at the news conference, “For generations, there has been room for newcomers in New York City. Today there is room for newcomers in New York City.”
Fabien Levy, a spokesperson for the mayor, said the administration is glad other city officials have joined Mayor Adams’ call for federal and state help and agreed that migrants should be treated humanely.
He added, “Since last year, the city has, mostly on its own, sheltered, fed, educated, provided health care and legal support, and made a host of other services to each of these individuals.”
On Wednesday, the mayor laid out a six-point plan at the U.S. Conference of Mayors that includes expedited right-to-work options, federal legislation that would establish a pathway to citizenship and nationwide leadership to unite toward a common goal.