City Hall, NY – Today, Speaker Adrienne Adams delivered opening remarks at the Council’s Committee on Immigration oversight hearing to examine the status of resources and services for newly arrived people seeking asylum. In her remarks, the Speaker addressed her concerns on the current migrant crisis and questioned the Administration’s handling of shelter and assistance for families affected and in need.
Below are the Speaker’s full remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Good afternoon. I am Adrienne Adams, Speaker of the New York City Council. Thank you to all who have joined us today and thank you Chair Hanif, for convening this important hearing on the resources and services for people who have recently arrived in our city seeking asylum from other countries.
“Over the past few months, it has been reported that thousands of people have arrived in New York City, seeking asylum from their home countries to escape desperate economic conditions, political violence and other crises. The scale of this migration reflects a dire situation. New York was already offering solace to people seeking asylum when the Texas Governor began sending others to our city in an act of political theater that is disgraceful. We have heard heartbreaking stories of people sent here after being lied to with promises of jobs, housing and other resources, despite no coordination with New York City. Let me be clear – it is despicable for any governor or government official to politically exploit vulnerable people for political gain, moving human beings around as if this is all a game. This is not a game – these are human lives, families, and children. These political stunts are dehumanizing and shameful.
“It does not escape me that those who are sending vulnerable people to other states without any real concern about the impact on these lives say they are people of faith. As a person of faith, the contradiction is glaring.
“The rhetoric employed by some false claims that those arriving here in our country seeking asylum are illegal, as if this somehow suggests they are deserving of mistreatment. I want to make clear on the record, which no one who comes to this Country to seek asylum is here illegally. Under federal law, and as a signatory to international laws protecting refugees, this Country has an obligation to offer protection from those fleeing persecution and this legislative body will strive to ensure that they receive the necessary resources to pursue their claims while in our great City.
“New York City has a responsibility to live up to its values as a sanctuary City, and this Council intends to help ensure we meet this moment with the compassion and effectiveness necessary in providing the appropriate support to those within our city. We understand that addressing this crisis is challenging and complex. It requires significant coordination across city government, and support from our state and federal government partners. Many of our city’s non-profit organizations have been working tirelessly to provide resources to individuals and families, filling important gaps. Our city agencies must effectively work together, and with all stakeholders to fulfill the comprehensive needs of those seeking asylum.
“There are serious concerns that the necessary planning steps to ensure adequate housing and resources for those that need it are lacking, leaving major gaps. Our goal is not to point fingers but rather ensure our city’s efforts are effective at meeting the scale of this crisis and improved through learning.
“On September 22nd, the Administration announced in a press release its intention to open Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Centers, with the first to be located in Orchard Beach. Yet, there are many questions about this plan that remain unanswered, which many have echoed since the announcement. While additional information has slowly trickled out, there remain many outstanding concerns and questions, including about their role, location, and suitability. These centers are not replacements for temporary shelter, and given the strain on our shelter system, there needs to be a better understanding of the City’s plan to provide shelter.
“Furthermore, shelter is just one aspect of support that is needed so I am very eager to hear what other forms of assistance the City is providing to those seeking asylum, how this is being done while budget reduction measures are being pursued, and how our city government is responding and intends to successfully respond. It is also helpful to identify challenges that the response effort is facing and can be resolved through collaboration.
“The City’s resources are being pulled from all angles, so it is going to take careful planning, meticulous oversight and ongoing transparency to ensure that appropriate services and resources are provided and that no one slips through the cracks.
“I hope that through hearings like this one today, we will highlight the real people that have been impacted by this crisis and the supports they need. We also hope to receive greater insight into how the City is providing resources and how the Council can continue to support and improve upon these efforts. We will continue to conduct oversight hearings on this issue to increase transparency and awareness, in order to ensure the City’s response lives up to our values and the great expectations we have of New York City’s government. I look forward to hearing the testimony of the Administration.
“Before they begin though, I would like to also give my thanks to the Committee staff for putting this hearing together and all of the people working in the background.
“I now turn it back over to Chair Hanif.”