NEW YORK — New York City Mayor Eric Adams on Monday evening accused the federal government of having to cut billions of dollars from municipal programs – including police, fire and sanitation – due to the increasing costs of paying new migrants.
“DC has abandoned us and they need to pay the price for this national problem,” Adams said at a town hall in Brooklyn.
The city has been overwhelmed by more than 125,000 migrants since last year, about half of whom remain in its custody. The problem required financing tent installations and paying for hotel stays in all five boroughs, crippling the city’s finances.
As a result, the city last week announced a series of service cuts, such as removing some public trash cans, decreasing aid to libraries and eliminating new classes of police officers.
Speaking to Coney Island residents with more than three dozen city officials and elected officials behind him, the Democratic mayor continued to place blame on the federal government for the city’s skyrocketing migrant costs, emphasizing specifically the inability of migrants to obtain legal work. permit.
“What we do to migrant asylum seekers is unfair, and what we do to ordinary taxpayers is unfair,” Adams said.
The battle with Washington has put Adams in conflict with the White House and President Joe Biden, with whom he has not spoken in nearly a year. But Adams made no apologies, saying the president needed to do more to help the nation’s largest city.
“I tell people all the time when they stop me on the subway, ‘Don’t yell at me, yell at DC,'” Adams said. “We deserve better as a city.”
In September, Adams called for a citywide hiring freeze due to spending on the crisis. The city has already lost about $1.5 billion to the influx of migrants for the fiscal year that ends June 30, and it plans to spend about $11 billion over the next two fiscal years, according to its recent budget plan.
The federal government helped, as did the state, with about $1.5 billion in aid. But the complexity and cost of the problem have strained the city’s budget, affecting all services and programs.
On Thursday, Adams announced $4 billion in budget cuts over the next year and a half. Adams says he needs to close a $7.1 billion gap before the new fiscal year begins July 1.
The cuts also affect services for migrants. His administration confirmed Monday that it would seek to cut the budget by 20 percent for “asylum seeker expenses.”
Adams was quick to blame the federal government, and Gov. Kathy Hochul also repeatedly called on Biden for more support, but not with the same harsh criticism as the mayor.
But Adams’ calls for help have also been impacted by a federal investigation into his campaign finances. Earlier this month, he was scheduled to meet with White House officials to advocate for more aid, alongside other big city mayors, but quickly returned to New York to deal with an FBI investigation into his campaign. He never met with federal officials that day.
To finance legal costs associated with the federal investigation into his campaign, Adams created a legal defense fund, POLITICO reported Friday.
“Do you see all these people who love me?” Adams told reporters when asked about the defense fund, pointing to voters gathered to take a photo with him after the event. “People love me as mayor. So they have the right to do what they want when they love their mayor. … That’s what America is all about.”