Officials from Mayor Adams’ administration visited Texas on Friday to learn more about the state’s handling of an influx of Latin American migrants, thousands of whom have been sent to New York in recent months, putting a strain on the city’s homeless shelter system.
Fabien Levy, Adams’ press secretary, declined to specify which city officials went on the trip to the Texas border, but confirmed Social Services Commissioner Gary Jenkins was not among them as he remains on vacation amid the deepening shelter crisis back home. A city government source familiar with the matter told the Daily News that the folks in Texas are from the mayor’s offices of immigrant and intergovernmental affairs.
In a statement, Levy said the officials headed to the Lone Star State for a first-hand look because Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has continued to stonewall the city’s request for details about the migrants being bussed to New York.
“The Texas governor’s office has been unresponsive and has turned this matter into a political sideshow,” Levy said. “We’ve sent members of the team down on a fact-finding mission to hear directly from folks on the ground along the southern border and get the real answers we’re not getting from Texas, including whether they are sending asylum seekers to New York City even if they prefer to go elsewhere.”
The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Adams aides were expected to meet with elected leaders from “friendly“ Democrat-led cities while in Texas.
A spokeswoman for Abbott did not return a request for comment.
The Texas trip comes as dozens of South and Central American migrants, many of whom are fleeing violence, persecution and economic devastation in their home countries, continue to arrive in New York every week after crossing into the U.S. from Mexico in hopes of applying for asylum.
Since the city is a “Right to Shelter” jurisdiction, Adams’ administration has had to provide a bed in a homeless shelter to any migrant who needs one. As of the beginning of this week, nearly 6,000 migrants were staying in city homeless shelters, according to Adams.
As a result, city shelters are nearly at a breaking point, with homeless advocate groups estimating that the vacancy rate systemwide is less than 1%.
Adams has pointed fingers at Abbott for the swelling crisis, accusing him of sending migrants to New York who have no local ties instead of allowing them to stay in Texas. “He is an anti-American governor,” Adams said last month.
Regardless of whether Abbott keeps sending more migrants to New York, Levy vowed Friday that Adams’ administration stands ready to keep helping them.
“We will continue to welcome asylum seekers with open arms, as we learn more about the process, meet with real partners, and see, firsthand, the reportedly inhumane conditions to which asylum seekers are being subjected to by the state of Texas,” he said.
The wave of migrants has also set off controversy within Adams’ administration after the city violated the “Right the Shelter” law in July when it failed to find timely shelter for at least five Latin American families.
Jenkins, who oversees the shelter system, has been accused by his ex-spokeswoman of initially attempting to keep Adams and the public in the dark about the legal violations. The Department of Investigation has since launched a probe into Jenkins’ alleged coverup.