By Joseph Ax
NEW YORK (Reuters) -New York City Mayor Eric Adams declared a state of emergency on Friday in response to thousands of migrants bused to the city in recent months from the U.S. southern border in a political dispute over border security.
The city expects to spend $1 billion to manage the influx of the migrants, Adams said in a speech at City Hall. More than 17,000 have arrived in New York since April; an average of five or six buses each day since early September, with nine buses pulling into the city on Thursday, said Adams, a Democrat, straining the city’s homeless shelter system.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican who is seeking a third term in November’s U.S. midterm elections has bused more than 3,000 migrants to New York. Adams criticized Abbott for failing to alert city officials when sending migrants to the city, calling it a “manufactured crisis.”
Abbott’s moves are part of a high-profile campaign by him and the Republican governors of Florida and Arizona to put a spotlight on record crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border in the run-up to the midterm elections. They argue U.S. President Joe Biden, a Democrat, has failed to adequately secure the border.
Abbott has also bused more than 900 people to Chicago, while Texas and Arizona combined have bused over 10,000 migrants to Washington, D.C.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican who is seen as a possible presidential contender in 2024, recently flew a group of about 50 migrants to the wealthy enclave of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. Those aboard the plane have said they were misled.
Democrats have called the moves political stunts and accuse the governors of using people as pawns.
Many of the migrants sent to New York are Venezuelans, whom the U.S. cannot expel to Mexico under a COVID-19 related policy as it can other migrants.
The Democratic-controlled city of El Paso has bused roughly 7,000 migrants to New York since late August, though city leaders say they are coordinating with New York officials.
The increase in arrivals has set a record for the number of people in shelters across New York.
“Although our compassion is limitless, our resources are not,” Adams said, calling on the federal and state governments to provide support. “We are at the edge of a precipice.”
The state of emergency will make it easier for city agencies to coordinate their response more quickly, Adams said.
Muriel Bowser, the mayor of Washington, D.C., declared a state of emergency in that city last month, creating a new office to handle incoming migrants.
(Reporting by Joseph Ax, additional reporting by Kristina Cooke.Editing by Alistair Bell)