Mayor Eric Adams on Tuesday urged surrounding municipalities to try to restrict the flow of migrant buses into New York City through executive orders similar to the one he issued last week. But city officials at the same time acknowledged their efforts have not yet deterred Texas Gov. Greg Abbott from providing free transportation to the city for migrants who recently crossed into the United States from Mexico.
“We coordinated and communicated with the municipalities in the area, and they should all do the same EO [executive order],” Adams said during his weekly press conference at City Hall.
“We’re dealing with a person who just wants to disrupt,” he added, referring to Abbott and doubling down on his administration’s previous recriminations toward the Republican governor.
Adams, a Democrat, said the Texas governor’s actions represented a “total reckless disregard for using people as pawns” and were intentionally causing chaos in NYC and other cities. Since last year, Abbott has sent tens of thousands of migrants to cities run by Democratic mayors as a way of criticizing President Joe Biden’s border policies.
But Adams officials have struggled to mitigate the impact of Abbott’s program as the migrant crisis strains the city’s shelter system and budget. More than 161,000 migrants have arrived in the city since spring 2022, according to city officials, with 68,000 now living in city-run shelters.
On Tuesday, the mayor’s chief legal counsel Lisa Zornberg said no migrant buses from Texas had so far complied with Adams’ order, which was announced last Wednesday.
Modeled after a similar order in Chicago, Adams’ requires charter buses transporting migrants to NYC to provide 32-hour notice to local officials and sets limits on the times and places that buses can arrive. It also calls for bus operators to provide a manifest of passengers, including the number of those likely to need shelter and how many are children and families.
Still, migrants have continued to arrive in the city by the hundreds daily. Many pay for their own journeys via bus or plane and are legally entitled to arrive at the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown Manhattan.
Since last week, some bus companies have appeared to circumvent the new rules by dropping migrants off at transit hubs in New Jersey and leaving them to take trains into the city.
At the press conference, Adams said he was scheduled to speak with New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy about the situation.
Zornberg also called Abbott’s migrant transport program “bonkers.” She said Texas had refused to coordinate with the city on the arrival of buses and warned that bus companies ignoring the city’s order were participating in “a bad-faith plan” that took advantage of vulnerable people.
Abbott’s office did not immediately answer Gothamist’s requests for comment Tuesday. And city officials repeated their calls for federal intervention to assist with the influx of migrants.
“It’s high time that the federal government step in with a national decompression strategy,” Zornberg said.
Fabien Levy, Adams’ deputy mayor for communications, went so far as to invoke “The Dark Knight” movie from the “Batman” franchise to lambaste Abbott.
“Some men can’t be reasoned with or negotiated with, some men just want to watch the world burn,” Levy said, quoting the 2008 Christopher Nolan flick. “Greg Abbott is that man. He can’t be reasoned with, he can’t be negotiated with, he just wants to watch this country burn.”
Adams said the city’s status as a “sanctuary city” — where local officials generally do not cooperate proactively with federal authorities on investigating undocumented immigrants — had “nothing to do with” his administration’s efforts to manage the flow of out-of-state migrant buses.
He added that the city was currently obligated to accommodate migrants under its decades-old right-to-shelter laws. “That’s why we’re in court now to say the right to shelter should not have an impact on this migrant crisis,” the mayor said.
Nancy Solomon and Andrew Giambrone contributed reporting.