NYC Mayor Defends Housing Migrants at High School

NYC Mayor Defends Housing Migrants at High School

New York City Mayor Eric Adams has firmly stood by the decision to temporarily house migrants in a Brooklyn high school, despite facing criticism over the handling of the migrant crisis amid a winter storm. In response to concerns about the storm’s strong winds, city officials relocated hundreds of migrants from a shelter at Floyd Bennett Field to James Madison High School on Tuesday night, resulting in the high school transitioning to remote learning the following day.

The move has sparked widespread backlash, with parents expressing discontent over the temporary closure of the school. Elected officials from various political backgrounds have also urged the city to find a more sustainable solution for housing migrants, especially during the winter months.

Advocates for homeless rights, including the Legal Aid Society and the Coalition for the Homeless, described the last-minute evacuation as “traumatic and disruptive” for migrant families. The school even received hate calls and a bomb threat, according to city officials.

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Defending the decision during an interview on “GMA3,” Mayor Adams emphasized that relocating migrants to the high school was the right course of action. He highlighted the city’s history of using school buildings in emergency situations, such as floods and fires. Adams stressed the importance of prioritizing the safety of children and families, ensuring that no one sleeps on the streets of New York City due to the city’s response to the emergency.

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Addressing concerns about inconveniences, Adams emphasized that safeguarding children is non-negotiable. He rejected the notion of putting children in harm’s way and asserted that ensuring their safety takes precedence.

New York Mayor Eric Adams visits with asylum seekers taking shelter at James Madison High School, in the Brooklyn borough of New York, Jan. 9, 2024.
Benny Polatseck/AP

Regarding the transition to remote learning, Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries emphasized the need to guarantee continued access to educational opportunities for all New York City students without disruption.

In a press briefing, Emergency Management Commissioner Zachary Iscol indicated that James Madison High School is not anticipated to be used again for housing migrants. He acknowledged that Floyd Bennett Field is not an ideal location but was offered by state and federal officials.

Mayor Adams highlighted the magnitude of the humanitarian crisis, with over 168,000 asylum-seekers passing through the city’s intake system since spring 2023. He emphasized the unprecedented nature of the situation and announced a lawsuit against transportation companies, seeking $708 million to cover costs related to caring for migrants.

Adams called on the federal government to address the national crisis, emphasizing that cities like New York should not bear the burden alone. He also responded to criticism of the 60-day shelter rule for migrant families, stressing that a national solution is needed, and New Yorkers should not shoulder the responsibility alone.

In response to the 60-day shelter rule, Comptroller Brad Lander announced an investigation, denouncing the policy as “one of the cruelest” in generations.

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Ingrid Mueller

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