Illegal immigrants with their belongings on the sidewalk in front of the
Watson Hotel in New York on Jan. 30, 2023. (Seth Wenig/AP Photo)
The historic Roosevelt Hotel in midtown Manhattan—shuttered three years ago—is being reopened to accommodate an anticipated influx of illegal immigrants, just as other New York City hotels are being converted to emergency shelters.
Mayor Eric Adams said on May 13 that the city will use the Roosevelt to eventually provide as many as 1,000 rooms for migrants who are expected to arrive in the coming weeks because of the expiration of pandemic-era rules, known collectively as Title 42, that allowed federal officials to turn away asylum-seekers from the U.S. border with Mexico.
Across the city, hotels such as the Roosevelt—many of them within walking distance from Times Square, the World Trade Center memorial site, and the Empire State Building—are being transformed into emergency shelters.
Adams said the city is running out of room for illegal immigrants and has sought help from the state and federal governments.
He said New York in recent weeks has been seeing 500 illegal immigrant arrivals per day. More than 61,000 have sought services from the city in the past 12 months.
On May 11, he said that once the rules change, there could be thousands of such arrivals to the city daily.
Title 42 is a law initially enacted in 1944 that allowed the federal government to curb immigration to protect public health. The Trump administration reimposed these restrictions at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic three years ago.
The Title 42 restrictions ended on May 11.
New York City officials are expecting to receive busloads of migrants from border states. The officials have explored housing the newcomers in airplane hangars, a race track, gymnasiums, or even tents in Central Park. Others could wind up on the streets, advocates feared, despite the city’s court-ordered commitment to provide all residents with access to a place to stay.
On May 10, Adams, a Democrat, temporarily suspended portions of New York’s law guaranteeing shelter to all residents. Adams signed an executive order so that the city has no obligation to meet a strict deadline for providing that shelter.
A few hours later, he sent roughly two dozen illegal immigrants on a bus to a hotel in the upstate town of Newburgh, amid fierce backlash from local leaders.
Many illegal immigrants residing in New York have arrived from Texas, after Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott started sending them there on buses in 2022.
Several other Democrat-led cities, including Chicago and Denver, have also grappled with providing a growing number of illegal immigrants with food, medicine, and shelter without significant federal funding.
According to a New York Times report, even the owner of the iconic Flatiron Building in Manhattan was asked to turn the skyscraper into a shelter, but he declined.
At a news conference on May 11, Manuel Castro, the commissioner for immigrant affairs, said the city “no longer can physically accommodate people that request emergency shelter.”
The city has also faced pushback in its early efforts to escort illegal immigrants out of the city. In Rockland County, local officials successfully secured a temporary restraining order banning the city from sending illegal immigrants to a hotel.
After two dozen illegal immigrants arrived in a Newburgh hotel on May 11, Orange County Executive Steven Neuhaus, a Republican, blamed Adams for a “disorganized disaster,” vowing to secure his own restraining order.
Speaking to reporters on May 11, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, said the city faces an “untenable situation.” But she said she also understands the stress faced by county executives and their decision not to support the buses.
“Our view is to continue working with the counties, but really focusing on continuing to support Mayor Adams because he’s receiving the brunt of most of this,” she said.
Adams has also accused the White House of “turning its back on New York City,” asking that work permits be given to illegal immigrants to solve the problem.
Adams said in April that the migrant influx into New York could cost the city more than $4 billion, at a time when the city is already facing a major budget shortfall.
New Regulation on Illegal Immigrants
The United States rolled out a regulation on May 10 that makes migrants ineligible for asylum if they first passed through nations without seeking protection or if they failed to use legal pathways for U.S. entry.
The rule applies to the vast majority of non-Mexican migrants seeking asylum because they usually pass through multiple countries en route to the United States.
Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council, a union representing 18,000 Border Patrol agents and support personnel, told The Epoch Times ahead of the termination of Title 42 that as many as 13,000 illegal migrants a day are expected to cross the border.
“I would say that we’re looking at a minimum of 13,000,” Judd said on May 10. “We’ve arrested more than 10,000 people per day for the last three days, and that number just continues to go up.”
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said migrants who cross the border illegally without being properly processed will be ineligible for asylum.
However, Judd says the Biden administration is misleading the public.
“That’s a half-truth at best,” he said.
Although people caught illegally crossing the border will be told they can’t claim asylum under the new rule, they will still have the right to appeal, and because Border Patrol can’t hold them until their appeal hearings, they will be released into the United States.
“They’re telling the American people what the intention of the rule is, but they’re not telling them the practical application of the rule,” he said.
Detention facilities are already three times over capacity, leaving the Border Patrol no choice but to release the border-crossers.
“We’re doing mass releases,” he said. “Now, it’s just mass releases to the street because we can’t hold this many people.”
He stated that more than two years of lax border policies have led to a massive influx of illegal migrants and strained the system, turning agents who once patrolled the southern border into desk clerks who process asylum claims.
“It pulls resources from patrolling the border,” he said. “That’s what arrests mean to us.”
At 10,000 arrests a day, about 70 percent of Border Patrol agents are doing administrative duties, he said, noting that the Biden administration prefers to use the word “apprehensions” “to make it sound nicer.”
The Associated Press, Reuters, and Brad Jones contributed to this report.
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