New York City is expanding assistance to asylum seekers to help them complete applications for asylum, work authorization, and other programs — as the city continues to grapple with a migrant crisis that has led to massive budget cuts.
Mayor Eric Adams announced the expansion of the Asylum Application Help Center — which allows illegal immigrants to apply for asylum, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and work authorization if eligible. The city will open two satellite sites to assist with applications, the city announced. It will use state funding to provide the sites. Migrants can arrange one-on-one appointments at help centers, where trained staff will provide "individualized support" based on their needs, the city said.
The city has been dealing with a migrant crisis that Adams has warned could "destroy" the city. The more than 140,000 migrants the city has seen since last year represent only a fraction of the millions who have been encountered at the border since the crisis began in 2021, but it has overwhelmed the sanctuary city’s social services — with officials demanding more help from the federal government.
So far, the city has helped process 7,200 asylum applications, more than 2,900 work authorizations and 2,900 TPS applications. TPS allows nationals from certain countries to be protected from deportation and to apply for work permits if their country is designated for TPS by the federal government. The Biden administration recently designated Venezuela for TPS, protecting nearly 500,000 migrants.
Meanwhile, a separate Resettlement Working Group will "connect with leaders of cities dealing with large influxes of asylum seekers, as well as with cities in need of people to fill vacant jobs." It’s one of a number of moves the city has made to move migrants out of the city and elsewhere in their country.
In a statement, Adams continued to blame the federal government for the crisis, despite the funding it has already received from the government and moves the administration has made to expedite work permits.
"While we continue to call for a national strategy to solve a national crisis, New York City continues to do its part to support asylum seekers," Adams said in a statement. "For over a year, we have asked the federal government to put forward a resettlement strategy, expedite work authorizations for asylum seekers, and provide New York City with much-needed and meaningful financial support.
"In the absence of that national strategy, New York City continues to lead — building out the legal and resettlement infrastructure needed to address this crisis. We hope the federal government will join us in these efforts and finish the job they started."
The latest expansion comes after the city slashed budgets across multiple departments, including education, policing and sanitation, earlier this month. Adams said the cuts are due to the city having spent $1.45 billion in fiscal 2023 on the migrant crisis and nearly $11 billion expected to be spent in 2024 and 2025.
The New York Police Department will freeze hiring to bring numbers below 30,000 by the end of fiscal year 2025 from over 33,000. There will also be deep cuts to education, including the universal pre-kindergarten program, and sanitation.
The budget cuts drew fury from the city's teachers and police unions, but Adams has repeatedly said their anger should be directed elsewhere.
"I tell people all the time when they stop me on the subway system, ‘Don’t yell at me, yell at DC,’" Adams said on Monday, according to Politico. "We deserve better as a city."
But the Biden administration has pointed to more than $770 million it has given out to support communities taking in migrants in the last year and recommendations its teams of experts have made.
It has also deployed personnel to help with authorizing work permits and to educate migrants on the immigration system, a DHS official said recently.
Separately, the White House has requested an additional $14 billion in emergency funding for border operations, which includes an additional $1.4 billion in grants to help local governments and nonprofits.
Adams warned last week that New Yorkers could soon see the crisis spilling out onto the streets.
"Believe it or not, there are migrant and asylum seekers who are saying, ‘We want to sleep on the streets.’ And so people have a right to do so, we need to be clear on that in New York City, because of the city council’s actions people have a right to sleep on the streets that we cannot stop. I want New Yorkers to understand that," he said.