A New York City Migrant Crisis Timeline

And its connection to the Biden administration’s proposed ‘Remain in Texas’ plan

By Andrew R. Arthur on September 11, 2023

  • On the campaign trail in 2021, then-Democratic mayoral candidate Eric Adams promoted New York City for its “sanctuary city” status, promoting undocumented immigrants in NYC as “essential employees” and underscoring the need to provide them and their children with proper healthcare and translation services in the city’s schools.
  • In the middle of March 2022, DHS began releasing large numbers of migrants that Border Patrol had apprehended at the Southwest border into border-adjacent communities, such as Uvalde, Texas (population 16,000, and more than 40 miles from the border), and Carrizo Springs, Texas (population 6,000 and 40 miles from the border), leaving many of those migrants with no way to continue further north.
  • Those towns struggled to deal with the migrants, and, in response, Texas Gov. Greg Abbot (R) began busing released migrants to Washington, D.C., in early April 2022. Those bus rides were purely voluntary for those migrants headed to the National Capital area. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) also began busing a small number of released migrants to D.C.
  • In July 2022, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) asked for National Guard assistance in dealing with the migrants in her city.
  • Then, as the New York Times reported on July 25, 2022:

    Early last week, Mayor Eric Adams called for federal assistance to help with what he said was a flood of 2,800 asylum seekers who were making it difficult for New York City to fulfill its legal obligation to provide housing to those in need, known as the right to shelter.

    Mr. Adams said the influx was partly caused by migrant families “arriving on buses sent by the Texas and Arizona governments.”

  • Although Adams blamed Texas and Arizona for busing migrants to his city, it does not appear that either state was doing so at the time.
  • In early August 2022, however, Texas began busing migrants seeking transportation to New York City, as well. It is not clear whether that was in response to Adams’ comments, or simply because there were a number of migrants released at the border who wanted to go to NYC.
  • At first, Adams greeted those migrant buses when they arrived in NYC. As he said in early August 2022: “As the mayor of the city of New York, I don’t weigh into immigration issues, border issues — I have to provide services for families that are here.”
  • NYC has since struggled to deal with the influx of migrants into the city. On August 16, 2023, Adams’ office announced:

    As of August 13, more than 101,200 asylum seekers have come through New York City’s shelter system, and over 58,500 remain in New York City’s care. New York City’s total shelter population currently sits at 110,200 — more than double what it was when Mayor Adams took office — when including longtime unhoused New Yorkers. In the past week alone, more than 2,700 asylum seekers have arrived in New York City.

  • The Wall Street Journal reported on September 7 that Abbott claims to have bused “over 13,300 migrants to New York City”, meaning “many thousands arrive via other means, including tens of thousands dispatched by Mr. Adams’s Democratic allies in Washington”.
  • Also on September 7, the New York Times reported that “the migrants boarding the Texas-funded buses represent only a fraction of the thousands arriving at the border each month, and some migrants are wary of accepting a free ride”.
  • Despite these facts, Adams largely blames Abbott for NYC’s issues, referring to the governor as “the madman down in Texas”:

    What happened? It started with a mad man down in Texas, decided he wanted to bus people up to New York City. ... One hundred ten thousand migrants. We have to feed, clothe, house, educate the children, wash their laundry sheets, give them everything they need, health care. And this team here, we stated, let’s do everything possible before we have to push it out into neighborhoods and communities.

  • Adams contends that this migrant crisis will cost his city $12 billion. Some 21,000 students living in “temporary housing” in the city are now attending NYC public schools, “a number that reflects the increase in migrant families arriving in the city”. Their arrival in school last week created chaos and spurred complaints from local residents.
  • NYC’s migrant issue is especially intractable when it comes to migrant families. In a March 2023 report, the NYC comptroller explained that “the majority of” migrant families — 70 percent — had settled into NYC’s Humanitarian Emergency Referral and Response Centers or shelters, “where they join individuals and families in a system where the average length of stay had stretched to 500 days even before the current crisis”.
  • Border Patrol reportedly apprehended at least 91,000 migrant adults travelling with children in “family units” at the Southwest border in August — the largest monthly total in history.
  • On September 6, Mayor Adams fretted over the city’s migrant crisis, asserting: “Never in my life have I had a problem that I did not see an ending to. I don’t see an ending to this.”
  • He continued: “This issue will destroy New York City. ... All of us are going to be impacted by this. I said it last year when we had 15,000, and I’m telling you now at 110,000. The city we knew, we’re about to lose.”
  • Two weeks ago, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas sent Adams a letter telling the mayor how New York could better handle the immigrants streaming into his city. Adams responded, “Any plan that does not include stopping the flow at the border is a failed plan.”

Biden Administration’s Texas Plan:

  • On September 7, the Los Angeles Times reported that the Biden administration is considering a plan to force released migrants to remain in Texas — and possibly other states near the border — while their asylum claims are being considered.
  • The expressed rationale for that plan is that it will be easier to remove those aliens once their asylum claims are denied, but it is difficult not to view this as an attempt to ease NYC’s migrant burden and to shift it to already overwhelmed Texas border communities with small tax bases and only low-scale health and educational services.
  • This appears to be political payback by Biden to Abbott, not only for the state’s busing scheme, but also for the large number of suits Texas has filed to shut down numerous administration immigration schemes.
  • As the LA Times notes, a similar plan was implemented under the Reagan administration, before it was shut down by a federal judge.