Buses full of migrants from the Texas border began rolling into New York City before dawn on Monday, amid urgent warnings from City Hall that the cost of absorbing new migrants was unsustainable and could lead to cuts to existing programs.
New York has received more than 31,000 migrants and has opened 60 emergency shelters, mostly in hotels, as well as six other centers to help direct people to services and aid. The school system is now educating thousands of children of new arrivals, most of whom came from Latin America, including many Venezuelans.
“We are in urgent need for help, and it’s time for our state and federal partners to act,” Mayor Eric Adams said in a statement on Sunday. The City Council was scheduled to hold hearings on the city’s support for migrants on Monday and Tuesday.
The arrivals are among an unprecedented surge of migrants at the southern border this year, propelled by economic and political upheaval in Latin America. The authorities at the border encountered two million people trying to cross without prior authorization in the last fiscal year, the highest number on record.
Those arrivals slowed in October after the federal government said it would close the border to Venezuelans based on Title 42, a Trump-era public health rule. That rule is set to expire for all migrants this week, unless a court delays the change, and thousands of migrants have amassed at the border, waiting to cross.
More on Migrants in New York
New York City has always welcomed and depended on immigrants. But a new wave of people crossing the U.S. border is testing the city’s reputation as a world sanctuary.
- Homelessness on the Rise: The arrival of these new migrants has pushed the population of the city’s homeless shelter system to record levels.
- Right to Shelter: One reason New York is under strain is because the city is required by law to give shelter to anyone who asks.
- Housing: Advocates for the homeless have urged the city to open up hotels to deal with the surge of immigrants. Mayor Eric Adams has also entertained other options, including cruise ships and a tent city.
- An Uphill Battle: Migrants who have made it to the city face many obstacles as they seek housing, jobs and a chance to stay in the United States legally.
Mr. Adams said officials had been told “in no uncertain terms” to expect more than 1,000 asylum seekers a week to be bused in once the rule expires.
As part of an effort to bring attention to the crisis at the border, the Republican governors of Texas and Arizona began chartering buses to send migrants north earlier this year. The authorities in Texas said Friday that they had bused more than 8,600 migrants to Washington, D.C., and over 4,000 to New York, with smaller numbers going to Chicago and Philadelphia. The city of El Paso, which has emerged as a top destination for migrants, also ran its own busing program, sending thousands of people to New York.
The official and volunteer response in New York has been noteworthy. Migrants are given hotel rooms, medical coverage, prepared meals and other assistance. The city has not released an estimate of the cost, but the mayor said that officials had “already spent hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars.”
The buses that arrived Monday at the Port Authority Bus Terminal had come from Del Rio, Texas, a border city about 150 miles west of San Antonio. They were chartered by the state and made stops along the way, according to Adama Bah, who coordinates a team of volunteers that meets the buses.
She and other volunteers cheered and clapped as migrants arrived at the terminal early Monday, welcoming them in English and Spanish. The group was a mix of men and women, some with small children. Most quickly headed into Port Authority clutching small bags of belongings. One Cuban family, including a mother and a small child sleeping on her shoulder, went a different way: directly into the arms of a relative, Maria Araujo, 57, who greeted them with tears of joy. They were headed to her home in Elizabeth, N.J.
Erika Chucchelan, 23, of Ecuador, was also meeting relatives, she said as she waited with her husband and small daughter, the trio draped in white blankets that had been given out on the bus.
“Thank god they treated us well,” she said of the bus trip. “We’re so grateful, also to the bus drivers, everything.”