The ball is in President Joe Biden’s court to “get stuff done.” Last Wednesday, April 19, Mayor Eric Adams renewed pressure on federal authorities to assist with newly-arrived asylum seekers by this upcoming May 11, the expiration of public health restriction Title 42, which Biden and his predecessor Donald Trump used to turn away asylum seekers under the pretense of preventing the spread of Covid-19.
“As a city, we have done everything in our power to provide support to the tens of thousands of asylum seekers who have arrived at our doorstep,” said Adams. “While New York City has shouldered the costs of this crisis largely alone, we have always said that this is a national crisis that requires a coordinated, comprehensive response from the federal government. To deny people the ability to work legally sets them up for failure.
“The actions we’re urging our federal partners to do, all of which can be done without support from the Republican leaders in Congress who refuse to do their jobs, will ensure that asylum seekers in New York City, and across the country, can do what they came here to do — work lawfully and build stable lives.”
The city is intaking roughly 200 migrants daily according to the Mayor’s Office.
Adams’ gameplan for the Biden administration includes re-designating or extending Temporary Protective Status for South American, Central American, and African nations listed, which he says will allow for more work authorization for eligible individuals. He also recommends opening up humanitarian parole, which allows migrants “who may be inadmissible or otherwise ineligible for admission” to temporarily remain in the country, along with ramping up the number of those reviewing immigration cases.
Such plans makeup a portion of Adams’ “The Road Forward” playbook, which was announced last month to address the future of newly-arrived asylum seekers. The Mayor’s blueprint intends to “integrate” migrants into New York City by adding some to the workforce. Adams specifically mentions vacancies in agriculture, transit, manufacturing and the service industry as fields migrants can fill if they are legally allowed to work.
This past February, male asylum seekers told Amsterdam News many found jobs in Manhattan since arriving and employment was a key reason why they initially protested relocation to a Brooklyn facility.
Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Manuel Castro adds that many migrants experience hopelessness since arriving in the United States. He thinks employment can fix that.
“Their situation is turning from the search for the American dream to a nightmare,” said Castro. “Because they’re not able to work [and] they feel shame that they cannot provide for their families and they cannot contribute to the city and United States. And they feel [as] they’re failing as parents and providers for their families here and back home. But there is hope.”
He adds that Salvadorans and Hondurans eligible for TPS frequently thrive in the “Big Apple” thanks to work permits.
Adams mentions many African asylum seekers are currently assisted by imams in the Bronx. He added “enough was enough” and that New Yorkers “deserved better from their national government.”
The New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) agreed with Adams’ assessment on employment, and said the immigrant and refugee rights group would join the mayor’s calls on the Biden administration.
“Finding work is a basic and essential first step to allowing people to build independent lives for themselves and their families,” said NYIC’s Theodore Moore in his statement. “Without the ability to move forward with their legal cases and gain much needed work authorizations, our newest arrivals are forced to live in desperate circumstances that often leads them to work in an unregulated economy open to abuse and wage theft.”
But the same immigration advocates also condemned Adams just a few days later over comments at this week’s African American Mayors Association Conference, where he said the migrant crisis was destroying New York City and that none of “his folks” came to Washington D.C. to fight for resources.
Tandy Lau is a Report for America corps member and writes about public safety for the Amsterdam News. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep him writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by visitinghttps://bit.ly/amnews1.