New York City is opening a fifth relief center amid a steady stream of asylum seekers, the mayor said



CNN

New York City will open a relief center at a cruise ship terminal, officials said, providing a temporary respite for the continued flow of asylum seekers entering the city.

Mayor Eric Adams announced Saturday that the new location will be at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, one of three cruise ship terminals in the New York City metropolitan area. The mayor said it will serve approximately 1,000 asylum seekers, specifically single men who will be transferred from another humanitarian relief center, as well as newly arrived single men.

The cruise terminal site will be the fifth humanitarian emergency response and relief center to open in the city to manage the arrival of migrants who have been bussed in in recent months from other parts of the country, according to the mayor’s announcement. The city has also opened 77 hotels as emergency shelters, according to New York City Emergency Management Commissioner Zach Escol.

A spokesperson for the mayor did not provide a timeline for when the new location would open, saying it was expected to be operational “very soon.” The spokesperson also declined to provide a cost for the new location, but said the city will hire an outside vendor to complete the process.

The center is expected to operate until spring, when the building reopens to the public for the cruise season, officials said, and will also offer on-site medical care, food, laundry, reconnection and a place to stay.

“With more than 41,000 asylum seekers arriving in New York City since last spring and nearly 28,000 asylum seekers currently in our care, our city is on the brink of collapse,” Adams said in a statement Saturday.

CNN has reached out to the New York City Economic Development Corporation, which leases and operates the cruise terminal, for comment.

The spokesperson said the cruise terminal’s structure will be “similar” to the tent structures the city opened on Randall’s Island in October. City officials said in a November news release that the center on Randall’s Island closed in mid-November in response to a dwindling number of asylum seekers at the time.

The Legal Aid Society and the Homeless Coalition, which criticized Adams’ plans to erect tent-like structures, issued a statement raising concerns about whether the shelter would comply with the city’s shelter-in-place policy.

The site is located in a “high-risk flood area,” the statement said, which “will unnecessarily expose future residents to the elements during some of the coldest months of the year.”

“Hotels have always been the better option in the short term, as opposed to pitching tents in inaccessible and flood-prone parts of New York City,” the statement said.

An Adams spokesperson said the cruise terminal’s new structure will be housed within an existing building on the terminal, stressing that it will provide “double insulation” from the elements; Advocates have raised concerns about the earlier structures.

In October, Adams declared a state of emergency to help respond to the city’s immigrant crisis, which he said would cost the city $1 billion this fiscal year.

The mayor also called for emergency federal and state aid to deal with the continuing influx of asylum seekers.

The Adams Declaration directed all relevant city agencies to coordinate efforts to respond to the humanitarian crisis and to establish relief and emergency humanitarian response centers in the city.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced a program this past April to move immigrants who have been processed and released by immigration authorities in border communities in Texas to Washington, D.C., New York and Chicago.

Abbott and others who favor increased immigration restrictions argue that the Biden administration’s policies have provided an incentive for more people to cross the border illegally. The bus campaign has led to a sparring between Abbott and Adams, whose administration has accused the governor of using humans as political pawns, and whose city has long been seen as a haven for immigrants.

Since March 2020, the controversial Trump-era border restriction known as Title 42 has allowed officials to expel immigrants who crossed the border illegally, all in the name of preventing Covid-19. There have been nearly 2.5 million parcels, most of them under the Biden administration.

Earlier this month, President Joe Biden denounced Title 42 and his administration said it was preparing to end it. But officials have repeatedly turned to Trump-era policy as a tool for managing the escalating situation at the border.

Officials claimed court decisions left them no other choice, but they also chose to expand the policy beyond any court order.

The Supreme Court ruled in December that Title 42 will remain in effect while legal challenges play out, a victory for Republican-led states and urged the Supreme Court to step in and block a lower court’s opinion that ordered the termination of power.

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