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NYC Mayor Eric Adams Appears Live on “CNN This Morning”

…. Mayor Eric Adams: For many months we were able to keep the visualization of this crisis from hitting our streets but we have reached the breaking point.

Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson: All of our cities have reached the point where we are either close to capacity or nearly out of room.

Denver Mayor Mike Johnston: We need more federal support to be able to manage this amount of inflow. It will crush city budgets around the country.

Mattingly: Since last year, Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott has bussed more than 80,000 migrants to cities including Denver, New York and Chicago. Let’s take a look, a closer look at the numbers in those cities. Take Denver, which has received more than 35,000 migrants. The mayor says the city will potentially spend 10 percent of its budget on migrant shelter and aid next year.

New York City, which has received 161,000 migrants, estimates the influx will cost $12 billion over three years. And in Chicago, with 26,000 migrant arrivals, city officials say the shelter systems, quote, reached capacity.

Joining us now are the mayors of those three cities: Mike Johnston, Brandon Johnson and Eric Adams. Gentlemen, we appreciate your time this morning. Mayor Adams, I want to start with you. You met with White House officials earlier this month. You called the meeting, quote, very productive. Has there been any follow up? What do you need most right now from the federal government?

Mayor Adams: Well, first of all, I want to really commend my colleagues, both the mayor of Denver and the mayor of Chicago, because this national crisis is really impacting and it has the potential of destabilizing the financial obligations that we have in our cities.

And the meeting with the White House, I think much more could be done and with all of our national leaders from a decompression strategy to making sure the cost of this is not falling on the laps of everyday taxpayers in our cities. So, it’s not just about New York City, it is all of these cities that are being impacted from Brownsville, El Paso, Houston, Chicago, New York, Denver. This is really an issue that you’re seeing play out on the streets of our cities.

Mattingly: Mayor Brandon Johnson, we spoke to you, my colleague Poppy Harlow spoke to you a couple days ago about this issue as well. The words “breaking point” are consistently used both in border towns and more in the internal areas of the country right now, your guys’ cities. What does that mean? Is it just a money thing? Is it a catastrophe thing? What does “breaking point” actually mean, for people who want to understand this.

Mayor Johnson: Yes. What it means is is that, you know, we have infrastructure in our local communities that are not designed to carry such a burden. Local municipalities are not structured to be able to carry the weight of a crisis like this.

And I’ve sent a delegation to the border to see firsthand what our bordering cities are experiencing, and what we have said repeatedly is that there has to be better coordination. And without a coordinated operation, this is going to crush local economies because there is a financial responsibility that we have all taken on.

And look, the bottom line is this, for at least for my experiences, is that we have a governor in Texas that is governing out of fear, and what we need right now, we need sound minds. And that’s why I’m grateful for the leadership of Mayor Eric Adams and the leadership of Mayor Mike Johnston, because we are working collectively together to be able to bring some structure around this crisis.

Mattingly: Mayor Johnston what do you say, and you’ve laid out very clearly both financial assistance, expansion of work permits, better entry plans. There’s very specific things you have made clear are necessary at this point in time. But to Mayor Johnson’s point, as cynical as it may be viewed had Governor Abbott not done what he’s done in terms of bussing migrants to interior cities, would it be getting the attention that it’s getting right now?

Mayor Johnston: Yes, I think the frustrating thing for us is we know this problem is solvable; actually, for Americans who have lost hope, it’s actually clear for us there is a path to solve it. And that’s why we need Congress to take action. I think the White House sees the same path to solve it, which is there’s nothing more un‑American than allowing someone to come to this country and pursue the American dream and then once they get there denying them a chance to work.

What we need is everyone that gets paroled into this country should have the ability to work as soon as they enter. They should have federal dollars to help support them in the cities that they arrive in. And we should have a coordinated national plan for where those folks arrive.

Mayor Johnson of Chicago talks powerfully about, America knows how to do this. We did it when we helped relocate refugees from Ukraine. We did it when we relocated refugees from Afghanistan. We had a coordinated system. Everyone had work authorization and we had federal support, and that worked miraculously and beautifully. We know we can make it work here, too, and that’s what we want to see our Congress do. That’s why we’re pushing Congress to act on those things.

Mattingly: What you’re referring to in terms of Ukraine and Afghanistan, those can be done unilaterally through executive action, if I’m correct, through the TPS system. Is that…is the administration falling short on that?

Mayor Johnston: Well, part of the challenge, as we know, we need federal resources also, and that’s where I think the supplemental budget that the president has pushed is being held up in Congress right now. What, you know, the breaking point as Mayor Johnston describes it for us is when you’re talking about 10 percent of the budget to allocate for cities on this, that’s unsustainable. When we have every single hotel room in the city full of migrants that have arrived, that’s unsustainable.

And so the federal resources are what the Congress has held up. Along with that, Congress could directly authorize the resources that are needed to accelerate that work authorization. Right now you come to America, you get an asylum claim, but that court date for your asylum claim is four years out right now because these judges don’t have the capacity at the border to adjudicate those issues quickly. So, we have someone waiting four years without the capacity to work for those four years, that’s also unsustainable.

Mattingly: Mayor Adams, this week you signed an executive order requiring all charter bus companies to provide 32 hours of advance notice of the arrival of busloads of migrants into the city. Do you have the kind of second order effects of that? I understand your rationale for doing it. You’ve laid it out very clearly. What is that going to mean in practice, and does this mean buses may be dropping people off outside of the city in New York?

Mayor Adams: Well, it’s about collaboration and turning this disorder into order. We have to orderly run our cities, and I think Mayor Johnson has stated how we’re coming together not only as the three mayors here but also the sitting governor of Massachusetts, and mayors of Houston, and Los Angeles, and [other] mayors across the entire country.

We want to collaborate together. We know this is a national problem and one of the initiatives that we’re doing is with that executive order we’re saying that between a certain period of time you are allowed to drop off migrants in the city, but you’re going to do it at the location that we specify so we don’t over tax our resources, our manpower and create a disorderly environment.

I think the question you asked is so significant, what does this breaking point look like. Breaking points look like having to cancel my police class, stopping some of my trash pickups, looking at some of my school programs that will have to be canceled, canceling some of my library hours, resources that were going into our seniors and older adults.

Every agency and delivery of service in my city is going to be drastically impacted by the actions of picking up the tab of $5 billion this fiscal year, $12 billion over three years that’s coming out of a substantial amount of our budget.

Mattingly: Mayor Johnson, while I know this is a policy issue, this is a human issue, there’s also very clearly a political element of this. Your city is the host of the Democratic National Convention in 2024. Are you concerned that that will make Chicago more of a target on the political side of things and stretch the resources of your city even further?

Mayor Johnson: Well, look. Chicago is the greatest city in the entire world, and so I know Denver and New York has already capitulated to that, so… [Laughter.] Look, it’s clear since the… the DNC was confirmed that it would be in my city, Governor Abbott has literally sent hundreds of buses to the city of Chicago, and at one point in the summer we had 25, 30 buses showing up every single day without any coordination or any notification.

The previous administration set up a policy where buses were being dropped off at police districts. It put an incredible strain on our Police Department. I’ve since cleared all of our police districts. We’ve set up, you know, almost 30 shelters, we’re educating 4,500 children, providing healthcare right on site.

And it is very evident that you have a governor who is committed to recklessness and lawlessness. We’ve set up parameters a month ago asking the State of Texas to coordinate with our city to provide the type of structure and calm that is needed in this crisis, and he has circumvented that at every hand.

In fact, he is now sending buses outside of the city of Chicago— in some instances, 100 miles away— where people are being dropped off, they’re being told that they are in the city of Chicago, literally dropped off in the middle of nowhere.

Mattingly: Right.

Mayor Johnson: I find that to be inhumane and unconscionable.

And so clearly, we understand that there are politics at play here. But as I’ve said repeatedly, as a country we cannot allow one individual to sow seeds of discord and not be held responsible. Sending airplanes to New York and Chicago without regulation is, quite frankly, is dangerous.

So, you know, as a country we’re going to continue to come together. I’m grateful for the leadership of both of our mayors. I’ve had over 100 mayors in the State of Illinois that we have brought together to provide the type of structure and calm that is needed in this crisis.

But I want to make this very clear: the international crisis that we are experiencing right now is being subsidized by local economies. That is not sustainable, and that’s why we need Congress to actually have appropriations to make sure that what refugees from Ukraine received, we have to ask our question, why aren’t those same support services being provided for individuals who are coming from the continent of Africa and Central and South America.

December 29, 2023 New York NY


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December 2023

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