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NYC Mayor Eric Adams Appears on WABC-TV’s “Tiempo”

Joe Torres: Buenos dias y bienvenidos, good morning and welcome once again to Tiempo. I’m Joe Torres. We are out of the studio and in Lower Manhattan, specifically at City Hall with a very special guest today, Mayor Eric Adams on the program. 

We’ll spend the next half hour focusing on the ever-growing migrant crisis here in New York City and at this point it affects not just the migrants, but all New Yorkers. There are currently 67,600 migrants in the city shelter system. That is a threefold increase from this time last year when the number was 21,300. 

And an important deadline is looming, the first wave of families with children who’ve been in the city shelter system for 60 days will soon be forced to leave. Migrants with no children are already subject to 30 day limits. 

Again we just caught up with the mayor for a one on one interview and we asked him plainly and simply, how does he plan to get New York City out of this crisis, a crisis that he has battled for more than a year. 

He just returned, by the way, from yet another trip to Washington to ask for federal help. The mayor argues the federal government should certainly help pay for the migrant crisis bc the crisis is a national concern. Mayor Adams returned with discouraging news.

[Video plays.]

Mayor Eric Adams: I did not leave with optimism, I left with the cold reality that help is not on the way in the immediate future. 

[Video ends.]

Torres: Without federal help the mayor has some major hurdles to overcome, more than nine million people depend on him and the administration for some kind of assistance, and the people have spoken. He has the lowest approval rating ever for a New York City mayor at 28 percent. The Quinnipiac University poll shows a majority of registered New York City voters disapprove of how Mayor Adams has handled homelessness, crime, and the big topic were addressing today, the migrant crisis. 

So how does the mayor respond? Well, in this special edition of Tiempo, we asked the mayor to address some of your most urgent concerns. We’ll start with the mayor responding to the lack of federal funding and how that impacts housing, education, and even public safety. 

Mr. Mayor, your words, we are at an untenable situation right now. It is painful for us. It is painful for the city. That’s what you said when you returned from your 10th trip to Washington. And you returned, like the previous nine, without any sort of financial aid package.

Mr. Mayor, how many more visits to the nation’s capital is it going to take to convince the lawmakers there that this city needs fiscal help with what is a national problem?

Mayor Adams: No, so true. And as a former lawmaker, I know that things aren’t instant. You have to constantly pound the pavement and walk the halls. And that’s what I did when I sat down with Congressman Jeffries, the minority leader, with Majority Leader Schumer and with the White House personnel to just constantly, as part of the overall package of this is not something that we could sustain in the City of New York and hoping I could just break through and have them understand that they need to address this.

Torres: Why don’t you think you were able to break through?

Mayor Adams: Well, I think that some people see this as a policy and not an urgency. And that’s a difference. You can be philosophical and talk about policy changes that you need to do, which we need to do. We need to have a real immigration reform. The republican party hasn’t been holding it up, but you also need the real on the ground relief. We received almost 4,000 migrant and asylum seekers last week. We’re averaging in the area of anywhere from 2,500 to 2,900. That’s relief we need right now.

Torres: Do you get the impression that the migrant crisis here and the overall border…disorder at the border, if you will, is simply, at this moment, not a high priority for the federal government, and if not, why not?

Mayor Adams: I find it baffling, because now you are hearing in the coalition that started out with Eric, now the coalition has grown to Chicago, Massachusetts, Denver, all over. So many other municipalities are joining me and saying, this is impacting our city. So, I’m not quite sure why we’re not seeing a response that we shouldn’t be receiving.

Torres: Because that’s been the response of no aid, at least not for now. This has a huge impact on the budget. You’ve talked about it. We’ve heard you talking about it. And this is where the crisis, would you not agree, affects every single New Yorker?

Mayor Adams: Yes. Yes. Yes.

Torres: Correct me if I got the numbers wrong: $5 billion this fiscal year, $7 billion in January. Major, major cutbacks, and that money [has to] come from somewhere; hence, cutbacks across just about every city agency. And if that federal assistance does not arrive, possibility of more cutbacks down the road.

You can see where this is going: less money, more cuts. How do you maintain, mayor, and the list is long, and this is just a few of them, public safety, academic achievement, housing assistance, job recovery, tax credits, how do you do it?

Mayor Adams: When we came into office January 1st, 2022, we inherited Covid. We cycled through that. We recovered our economy, AA bond rating. We were able to create more jobs in the private sector in the history of the city, brought down crime, shootings, homicides, five of the seven major categories. We were humming and trending in the right direction.

People thought it was going to take us four years, the city was recovering in two years. And now you have this, and it’s going to impact every delivery of services in our city from our street cleaning to our parks, to our public safety, to our resources we want to put into our elders and our young people. That’s the budget I passed.

I had to come back and follow the law. Every two years, we have to balance our budget, by law. And we have to do a November plan if that budget is not in sync going into the next year. And that’s where we are right now.

Torres: Do you ask New Yorkers, be patient or deal with us as we go through this tough time?

Mayor Adams: Well, New Yorkers are angry. They’re feeling the pain. They’re watching that a large number of people are migrant and asylum seekers, over 150,000. They’re watching them say they want to work and they’re not being allowed to work and then they’re watching the cuts in their services.

So, we don’t want to pit those who are in New York against each other. There’s a uniform belief that migrants should have the right to work, federal government should be paying up for this. We need to make sure we have a decompression strategy that goes throughout the entire country, and that’s our focus.

Joe Torres: We’re just getting started with this special edition of Tiempo at City Hall in Lower Manhattan. When we come back we ask the mayor about the migrant crisis and how it affects education, more specifically, administrators and teachers, parents, and students.

Good morning and welcome back to this very special edition of Tiempo at City Hall in Lower Manhattan, and our very special guest, Mayor Eric Adams. Specifically, we’re talking about the migrant crisis and how it impacts every city service across all five boroughs.

Let’s talk specifically about one of the concerns that are impacted as a result of all of this, housing. And I’m going to throw out some numbers so that you know that I know and so that our viewers know what’s up. This administration has moved more than 50 percent of the 150 migrants and asylum seekers who’ve come through and out of the system. So far so good?

Mayor Adams: Yes.

Torres: More than 80 percent of the migrant men who got and faced a 30‑day eviction notice, they got alternative houses.

Mayor Adams: That’s right.

Torres: Managed to sustain themselves. That says something.

Mayor Adams: Yes.

Torres: My question though is this. Now the 60 day eviction notices are going out to migrant families, roughly 3,300 if my numbers are right, who must move out or find some other alternative housing. You’ve seen though, nonetheless, what happened to at least some of those migrant men. They faced the eviction notice. They were waiting in the cold. They were waiting in lobbies. They were waiting in waiting rooms. Some of them had no heat, little access to water.

You say your aim— and I’ve heard you say this— is to keep kids from having to sleep on the streets. And you also said it’s not a matter of if, matter of when. My question is this: is the plan to send the evicted migrant families to the same lines waiting out in the cold as the migrant men had to go through?

Mayor Adams: That’s a great question, because you have to operationalize your policies. And when it comes down to how do you operationalize those who can’t find the housing or self sustain themselves with children and families. And so we want to be as humane as possible. Our goal is not to be inhumane.

We wanted to send a clear message to the single adults, and it’s a different message we’re sending to children and families. First of all, we doubled the time span to make sure we’re 60 days, and we are going to continue to do everything possible not to have children and families sleep on the street.

Torres: I know you extended it briefly for a little longer. Any chance you could extend it even further?

Mayor Adams: One thing we know for sure, we had to set up a process and a program that did not exist before when Governor Abbott started sending migrants here last year. We were able to allow 50 percent of those individuals to self-sustain themselves, 80 percent of those who we gave the 30‑day notice were able to self sustain themselves.

People changed venues, they went to places they really wanted to go to. And so the program we had that actually advocated to get the TPS status in place so people can start getting work and jobs authorization. So, you are seeing us successfully move people out, but the flow coming in is just too, too large.

Torres: You’ve promised no child’s education will be disrupted. We’re guessing you’ve heard from the UFT President, Mr. Mulgrew, he speaks out quite often.

He and others say the shelter transfers are supremely disruptive for students and parents, schools and administrators. I’m sure you can understand that. But how does moving a migrant family from, say, a shelter in Queens to perhaps a shelter in Staten Island not incentivize a mom and a dad to relocate their child from one school to a school closer to home?

Mayor Adams: There are no perfect solutions here. And we welcome the partnership with the UFT— like we worked together during Covid— and all those who believe they have a better way to do it, we want to hear it. But a better way is not just to critique, is to solution.

We’re dealing with a shortage of places to put children and family. That’s why we built out the HERRC out in Floyd Bennett Field. So, many people are saying, no, don’t bring them here, but they’re not telling us where. And I don’t have that luxury when a busload of migrants and asylum seekers shows up to…

Torres: School administrators say there’s no one central location for a principal to call to find out where their family is, where their student is.

And you can imagine the concern. I mean, New York City teachers and principals love their kids as much as their parents do. So, try and imagine the uncertainty and uneasiness that they would face if 40 of their kids that were in class on Monday are not there on Tuesday. How do you respond to that?

Mayor Adams: Well, we need to make sure that we have a centralized location so they know where their children are, because you’re right. Teachers and administrators and schools and principals, they really love their children and they see them as their own. And we want to make sure that we give a level of clarity like we did during Covid. We took the uncertainty out of schools being open or not.

We want to bring that clarity. But I’m really asking my professionals to understand the complexity and the challenges that we are facing daily. We are daily dealing with an influx of people. Do you know we have one and a half times more than the population of Albany has been brought into our city in this short period of time?

Torres: The migrants coming in is one and a half times greater than the population of this state’s capitol?

Mayor Adams: Yes. Think about that for a moment.

Torres: There is still much more to come in this special edition of Tiempo here at City Hall in Lower Manhattan. Coming up next, the mayor admits to money wasted, in an effort to feed migrants and asylum seekers.

Welcome back to Lower Manhattan here at City Hall for this week’s edition of Tiempo we continue now our one on one interview with Mayor Eric Adams and the many challenges he faces dealing with the migrant crisis.

Torres: You and other mayors have made this clear to properly address this issue in the city and in other cities, the federal government has to properly address what’s happening at the border.

Mayor Adams: Yes.

Torres: I’m going to give you a raise and make you the president. [Laughter.] In your estimation, if you had it your way, what’s the solution?

Mayor Adams: A real decompression strategy at the border. What does that look like?

Torres: And what does it mean?

Mayor Adams: We have 108,000 towns, villages, cities across America. Someone comes in, legally vetted, we tell them, here’s where you are going to go for a three‑year period to stabilize yourselves. We’re going to give that municipality the support that they need to stabilize this family using methods that we’re using here.

This way, instead of having 140,000 coming here or a thousand coming to Chicago, we’re spreading out throughout the entire country, which in my view, many people are dealing with population issues, employment issues and they want migrants and asylum seekers that can work because we are city and a country of immigrants.

Torres: Your trip to Central and South America, loved it. To observe, to hear, to take notes on the approaches that other cities and countries have taken to address their own migrant crisis. What workable, proven solutions did you see down there that you and your staff said, that’s a good idea, we should try that here in New York?

Mayor Adams: Allowing the nonprofits to play a greater role.

Torres: Okay.

Mayor Adams: Because when nonprofits are engaged, they’re not doing it for profit, they’re doing it for people. And we want to get our faith‑based leaders on board. We met…we went and saw a couple of migrant shelters that were being headed by faith institutions.

Torres: Faith‑based institutions?

Mayor Adams: Right. And we want to see that in a greater way here in the city to turn over some of those entities and items to our faith‑based and other nonprofits.

Torres: I’m sure you saw The New York Times report. Just as you’re making substantial cuts to help cover the ongoing costs with migrant care, thousands and thousands of meals for migrants are thrown away, not eaten. Those are meals, Mr. Mayor, paid for by the city.

Mayor Adams: Yes.

Torres: The report estimates a lost cost of more than $1 million a month. Is that true; and if it is, what’s being done to address that waste of money, Mr. Mayor?

Mayor Adams: We must find a way to allow migrants to asylum seekers, to purchase, either using cash cards or some other methods. This way they can purchase the food that they’re used to eating, but it has to keep the cost down. We cannot increase the cost of the purchase of food. And we are looking at that, finding the right way to feed people healthy food; and at the same time, not waste this food in the process.

Torres: In your first two years— and you talked about this a little bit, but it’s worth repeating— you funneled hundreds of millions of dollars into tax credits, affordable housing, childcare programs.

You focused on public safety, the reduction of crime. You fought for pay raises for municipal workers, delivery workers, for‑hire drivers. How concerned are you that the continuation of the status quo with no financial help from Washington will undo all that you got done?

Mayor Adams: No, it’s a concern and it hits it all. It hits the public safety because you can’t have young people that can’t be employed sitting around all day. That’s a problem. It hits in our ability to continue our housing initiative. It hits in every aspect of what we were successful in doing in 24 months.

But listen, I’m elected as the mayor of the City of New York and I have to navigate this through this crisis. And I’m up for the challenge. I thank God that I’m in this position right now to actually implement what is needed to move the city forward.

Torres: As we wrap up this special edition of Tiempo here at New York City Hall in Lower Manhattan, Mayor Eric Adams highlights a point of pride for him, the number of high-ranking Latinos in his administration.

You’ve appointed Latinos in the highest ranks of government— deputy mayor, police commissioner, transportation commissioner, Department of the Aging; until recently, the Correction Department.

We have featured on Tiempo, many of those people that you’ve appointed to those positions because they were pioneers, they were groundbreakers, the first Latino here, the first Latino there. How quickly are we approaching the day, Mr. Mayor, where we won’t need to have them on Tiempo anymore because all the groundbreaking’s been done?

Mayor Adams: Listen, it is going to happen, probably at the end of this administration. It took 110 mayors before we had the first Dominican to be a deputy mayor, the first Latino to be a police commissioner, first Latino to be a Department of Correction and some of the others that you mentioned.

And it is not only that have we done well by the Latino community who has been extremely supportive of me, but we’ve done well by other communities in the city. First Filipino to be a deputy mayor, first East Indian to be a deputy mayor, first Korean to be head of small business services. And so we are looking to have our administration reflect the diversity of the city; and that diversity, I believe, is important in Latino community.

Torres: When I’m out on the street and I’m talking to people and they’re quick to criticize the approach that the administration is taking and they often loosely throw around the word inhumane.

And I get a little defensive because many of these people came from countries where they faced crime, they faced torture, they faced gang warfare, they faced drugs, they faced oppression. And then they travel six or seven countries. We talk about it like it’s easy, crawl through the desert, sleep in the mountainsides, get through a river and then they come here. And my argument to those people is, that was inhumane.

Mayor Adams: That’s right. Well said. Well said. Well said.

Torres: They came here in New York City, find some shelter, may not be the best, puts food in their mouth, educates their children.

Mayor Adams: Think about that.

Torres: Comes up with resources to try and help them get by.

Mayor Adams: Mental health support.

Torres: That’s not inhumane.

Mayor Adams: No, it’s not, brother. Just the opposite. And we’ve done it like no other city.

Torres: Because you get calls from other mayors and other…and what do they say?

Mayor Adams: We’re surprised how you guys are doing it. No one is sleeping in police precincts, hospital floors. No one is sleeping in tents in our city, no children and families. So, when people say what this administration has done is inhumane, they needed to take that trip with me to South America and see the Darién Gap.

They need to see how people are placing their lives on the line and come through. I saw what happened…is going on in Ecuador, what’s going on in Mexico, what’s going on in Colombia and how people are coming here really taking dangerous routes.

Torres: Mayor, a final word. You know, there’s no perfect plan…

Mayor Adams: Right.

Torres: …because we’re all individuals and we’re imperfect.

Mayor Adams: That’s right.

Torres: I need you to reassure me and the others who are watching, A) we’re going to get through this; B) the city’s doing the best it can; C) work with us.

Mayor Adams: Well, I think that this situation is our story. I mean, you just look at the ancestry of the Latino community. Many came here not able to speak English, did whatever job possible so the next generation could be newscasters, doctors, owners of business[es]. And it was tough time.

If we would sit down and speak to our aunties and our grandmas and our granddad, they’d give you the real narrative and how difficult it was, but they pushed through and because they pushed through, there’s a me and a you doing what we do.

Torres: As always, many thanks to you at home, for spending part of your Sunday with us, and this Sunday, special thanks to Mayor Eric Adams for carving 30 minutes out of his schedule to talk to us about an issue that impacts every single New Yorker. I’m Joe Torres, we’ll see you next week back in the studio for another edition of Tiempo. 

December 17, 2023 New York NY

Source: NYC.gov – Midtown Tribune news
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