Critics of Mayor Adams’ plan to house asylum seekers in refugee-style tents slammed it as “illegal” and “inhumane” Friday as questions continued to loom over how exactly — and whether — his administration intends to comply with the state’s right to shelter law.
“This pitch was sold as a state-of-the-art facility with food, beds and a warm New York City welcome,” Councilwoman Shahana Hanif (D-Brooklyn), chairwoman of the Council’s Immigration Committee, said during a rally outside City Hall. “But there is nothing state of the art about a refugee camp built outdoors in a flood zone in October.”
Hanif’s criticisms came just hours before a Council hearing into Adams’ policy and a week after he and top city officials announced their latest plan to address the influx of migrants into the city by building five tents in an Orchard Beach parking lot in the Bronx. The plan, which has not yet been completed, almost immediately raised questions over whether it was being pursued to avoid following the state’s right to shelter laws, which require local governments to provide housing to people who seek it within a prescribed timeframe.
The city has been in apparent violation of that law dozens of times since Adams took office in January.
Hanif and other critics railed against the mayor’s policy Friday for a laundry list of reasons: the administration didn’t consult with local elected officials before making its announcement last week, the location is remote and prone to flooding and questions remain about how exactly the tents will be used to assist asylum seekers.
Hanif also bristled over the revelation that a contractor handling the tents in Orchard Beach, Texas-based SLSCO, helped construct former President Donald Trump’s southern border wall. She called Adams’ overall Orchard Beach plan “illegal.”
For months now, asylum seekers from South and Central America have been flowing into the city, many on buses directed here by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who has sought to use the busing as a way to criticize President Biden’s border policy. So far, Adams’ administration estimates that more than 13,000 migrants have come to the Big Apple, placing a strain on the city’s already burdened shelter system.
The tents in Orchard Beach are intended as a way to mitigate that crisis, but detractors view it as the wrong answer.
Queens Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz questioned why the migrants must be housed in tents when other alternatives exist. She suggested the city could provide shelter in the Javits Center, college dormitories and vacant hotels.
“I urge our state and our city administration to work together finding different options because there has to be,” she said. “We have money to pay for all of that. We are a very rich city. Every time someone says we don’t have money, we find money.”
Migrants continue to be housed in city homeless shelters, and those shelters and the tents expected in the Bronx are not the only options the city currently has in the works.
Adams’ team is continuing to negotiate potential deals to house migrants on cruise ships.