New York struggles to accommodate migrants as Texas sends them by bus

(CNN) — More migrants continued to arrive in New York City on Wednesday, a day after city officials criticized Texas Governor Greg Abbott for busing migrants detained at the border into the city as part of his campaign to draw attention to the influx of migrants crossing from Mexico.

City officials said intake centers are already overwhelmed with more than 4,000 people since a surge that began in May.

Three buses carrying about 100 immigrants from Texas arrived in New York City early Wednesday, city officials said. The migrants who arrived on Wednesday were from Venezuela and Colombia, said Shaina Coronel, spokeswoman for Manuel Castro, commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigration Affairs.

The immigrants were a mix of families and single men, according to Michael Whitesides, a spokesman for Councilmember Shahana Hanif. They arrived between 7:00 am and 8:00 am to loud applause from the volunteers, including Hanif, Coronel said.

“Mutual assistance groups were delivering our care packages with food and to-go bags, while NYIC and Immigrant Arc helped with legal services,” Whitesides said.

The Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs said about eight migrants getting off the bus needed emergency medical care for various health-related issues.

Over the weekend, at least 68 more immigrants arrived by bus from Texas.

And while the city plans to open a more specialized help center in the next two weeks, along with more emergency housing, officials are struggling with a lack of coordination from the state of Texas, he said.

“They have essentially weaponized this situation,” Castro said while speaking at a city council hearing Tuesday. “We have learned that the bus company they have been working with has a non-disclosure agreement that does not allow them to communicate with New York City.”

Mayor Eric Adams accused Abbott of forcing migrants onto buses, a charge the governor’s office denied Monday.

On Friday of last week, Abbott’s office released a statement stating that New York City is now a designated location “for the busing strategy with Washington, as part of the governor’s response to policies of open borders of the Biden administration that overwhelm the communities of Texas.

Abbott began busing thousands of migrants to Washington earlier this year as an affront to the Biden administration.

“It’s unimaginable. Arriving in a country and having someone kick you out on your first visit, like the governor of Texas is doing, and then trying to navigate this complex country to serve,” Adams said at an unrelated news event. with the theme on Tuesday.

Abbott’s office echoed earlier comments Wednesday by reiterating that immigrants who are bused into New York City are going voluntarily and have signed a waiver of consent to their destination.

“These migrants voluntarily chose to go to New York City, having signed a voluntary consent waiver, available in multiple languages ​​upon boarding, and agreed to the destination. If the mayor wants a solution to this crisis, he must ask President Biden to take immediate action to secure the border, something the president continues to fail to do,” Abbott press secretary Renae Eze said in a statement.

A copy of the waiver obtained by CNN lists Washington and New York City as “available destinations.” It also includes a line that absolves Texas and its officials from liability “arising from or in any way connected with injuries and damages that may occur during agreed transportation to locations outside of Texas.”

Abbott’s office did not answer questions about nondisclosure agreements for bus companies.

A migrant who arrived Wednesday, who spoke to CNN on condition of anonymity, said he has family in New York City and voluntarily got on the bus. He had previously traveled a month from Venezuela to the border to seek asylum in what he described as an arduous journey, and he was happy to finally be reunited with his family in New York.

He described a three-day trip to New York as a comfortable ride, adding that food and water were provided. The man claimed that some people on the bus wanted to come to New York of his own free will and arranged to meet with relatives.

Others arriving Wednesday were seeking final destinations in Chicago, Miami, Maryland, North Carolina, along with the New York city of Rochester and the town of Westbury, Coronel said.

City officials say migrants need housing, legal and medical assistance

At Tuesday’s hearing, city officials detailed the challenge of providing services such as housing, legal aid and even medical assistance.

“When the buses arrive, people arrive hungry, thirsty and often sick,” Castro said. “And those are the immediate needs. Asylum seekers have a lot of unique needs.”

New York City Department of Social Services Commissioner Gary Jenkins told the hearing on “New York City’s Long-Time Shelter Admissions Problems and Recent Rise in Asylum Seekers” that migrants have been placed at 11 emergency sites: four in Manhattan, three in Queens, two in Brooklyn and two in the Bronx, he said.

The city is expected to open a specialized service center in the next two weeks, New York City Office of Emergency Management Commissioner Zach Iscol said. That center will mainly offer legal services and enrollment in public schools for the children who have arrived, among others. Next, they plan to refer people to community organizations as a way to enroll immigrants in different communities, Iscol said.

Adams, for his part, said he is asking for more state and federal aid, and that he hopes to speak with the Biden administration before the weekend. He also highlighted the conditions that most migrants from Texas had to endure, with a 45-hour bus ride and limited stops, although, according to him, some wanted to go to another state.

“There is nothing successful in treating people with this lack of dignity,” the mayor said.

CNN’s Isa Kaufman-Geballe contributed to this article.

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