New York City will open a fifth assistance center as the influx of asylum seekers continues, the mayor says

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CNN

New York City plans to open an assistance center at a cruise ship terminal that will provide a temporary respite from the constant flow of asylum seekers arriving in the city, officials said.

The new site will be located at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, one of three cruise ship terminals in the New York metropolitan area, Mayor Eric Adams announced Saturday. It will serve about 1,000 asylum seekers, mostly single male newcomers, especially single adult men who are being transferred from another humanitarian aid center, the mayor said.

According to the mayor, the cruise terminal site will be the fifth humanitarian emergency and assistance center opened in the city in recent months to handle the influx of immigrants arriving by bus from other parts of the country. The city also opened 77 hotels as emergency shelters, New York City Emergency Management Commissioner Zach Iskol said.

The mayor’s spokesman did not provide a timetable for the launch of the new site, which should be up and running “as soon as possible.” A spokeswoman declined to provide a cost for the new site, but said the city will hire an outside vendor to complete the process.

The center is expected to be operational by spring, when the terminal will reopen to the public during the cruise season, and will also offer medical care, meals, laundry, reconnection and lodging.

“Since last spring, more than 41,000 asylum seekers have arrived in New York, and we currently have nearly 28,000 asylum seekers in our care, and our city is at breaking point,” Adams said in a statement Saturday.

CNN has reached out to the New York City Economic Development Corporation, which leases and operates the cruise terminal, for comment.

The cruise terminal structure will be “similar” to the city tent structures that opened on Randall’s Island in October, a spokeswoman said. The Randall’s Island center closed in mid-November in response to a decline in the number of asylum seekers at the time, city officials said in a November news release.

The Legal Aid Society and the Coalition for the Homeless, which criticized Adams’ plan for the loft-like structures, issued a statement expressing concern about whether the shelter would comply with the city’s right-to-housing policy.

The statement said the site is in a “high flood risk area,” which “exposes prospective residents to unwanted elements during the coldest months of the year.”

“Unlike pitching a tent in New York’s inaccessible flood-prone areas, hotels have always been the best short-term option,” the report said.

A spokeswoman for Adams said the new cruise terminal structure would be located inside an existing building at the terminal, noting that it would provide “double insulation” from the elements; conservationists expressed concern about the former structures.

In October, Adams declared a state of emergency to help deal with the city’s migrant crisis, which he said will cost the city $1 billion this fiscal year.

The mayor also called for emergency federal and state aid to manage the continued influx of asylum seekers.

Adams’ statement called on all relevant city agencies to coordinate efforts to respond to the humanitarian crisis and build the city’s emergency humanitarian response and assistance centers.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced last April a bus program for migrants processed and released by immigration authorities in Texas border communities to Washington, New York and Chicago.

Abbott and other advocates of tougher immigration restrictions say the Biden administration’s policies have encouraged more people to cross the border illegally. The bus campaign has led to clashes between Abbott and Adams, whose administration has accused the governor of using people as political pawns and whose city has long been seen as a haven for migrants.

Since March 2020, a controversial Trump-era border restriction known as Title 42 has allowed authorities to quickly deport migrants who have crossed the border illegally in an effort to prevent Covid-19. About 2.5 million were evicted, mostly during the Biden administration.

Earlier this month, President Joe Biden publicly condemned Title 42 and said his administration was preparing to end it. But officials have repeatedly turned to the Trump-era policy as a means of managing border tensions.

Officials said the court rulings left them no choice, but they chose to expand the policy beyond any court ruling.

In December, the Supreme Court ruled that Title 42 would remain in effect pending legal challenges, a victory in Republican-led states that prompted the Supreme Court to step in and block a lower court opinion that ordered the suspension of the authority.

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