New York City is set to open a relief center in a terminal for cruise ships, which will provide temporary respite to the continued influx of asylum-seekers entering the city, officials said.
The new site will be located at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, one of three terminals for cruise ships in the New York City metropolitan area, Mayor Eric Adams announced Saturday. It will serve approximately 1,000 asylum-seekers, specifically single adult men who will be moved from another humanitarian relief center, in addition to newly arriving single men, the mayor said.
The cruise terminal site will be the fifth Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Center to open in the city to manage the arrival of immigrants who have been bused in over recent months from other parts of the country, according to the mayor’s announcement. The city has also opened 77 hotels as emergency shelters, according to New York City Emergency Management Commissioner Zach Iscol.
A spokesperson for the mayor did not provide a timeline for when the new site will open, saying it is expected to be up and running “very soon.” The spokesperson also declined to provide a cost for the new site but said the city would be hiring an outside vendor to complete the process.
The center is expected to be in operation until the spring, when the terminal reopens to the public for cruise season, officials said, and it will also offer on-site medical care, food, laundry, reconnections, and a place to stay.
“With more than 41,000 asylum-seekers arriving in New York City since last spring and nearly 28,000 asylum-seekers currently in our care, our city is at its breaking point,” Adams said in a statement Saturday.
CNN has reached out to the New York City Economic Development Corporation, which leases and operates the cruise terminal, for comment.
Advocates raise concerns
The cruise terminal structure will be “similar” to the tent structures the city opened on Randall’s Island back in October, the spokesperson said. The center on Randall’s Island closed in mid-November in response to the dwindling number of asylum-seekers at the time, city officials said in a news release in November.
The Legal Aid Society and the Coalition for the Homeless, which have both been critical of Adams’ plans to set up tent-like structures, issued a statement raising concerns about whether the shelter will comply with the city’s right to shelter policy.
The statement said the site is in a “high-risk flood zone,” which will “needlessly expose future residents to the elements during some of the coldest months of the year.”
“Hotels have always been the better short-term option, in contrast to erecting tents in inaccessible parts of New York City that are prone to flooding,” the statement said.
The spokesperson for Adams said the new cruise terminal structure will be housed inside an existing building on the terminal, stressing it would provide “double insulation” from the elements; a concern advocates had raised about previous structures.
In October, Adams declared a state of emergency to help respond to the city’s migrant crisis, which he said would cost the city $1 billion this fiscal year.
The mayor also called for emergency federal and state aid to handle the continued influx of asylum-seekers.
Adams’ declaration directed all relevant city agencies to coordinate efforts to respond to the humanitarian crisis and to construct the city’s Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Centers.
Biden publicly decried Title 42
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced a program last April to bus migrants who have been processed and released by immigration authorities in Texas border communities to Washington DC, New York City, and Chicago.
Abbott and others who favor increasing immigration restrictions argue Biden administration policies have provided an incentive for more people to cross the border illegally. The busing campaign has led to sparring between Abbott and Adams, whose administration has accused the governor of using human beings as political pawns and whose city has been long considered a sanctuary for migrants.
Since March 2020, the controversial Trump-era border restriction known as Title 42 has allowed officials to swiftly expel migrants who crossed the border illegally, all in the name of Covid-19 prevention. There have been nearly 2.5 million expulsions, mostly under the Biden administration.
Earlier this month, President Joe Biden public decried Title 42 and his administration said it’s preparing to end it. But officials have repeatedly turned to the Trump-era policy as a tool to manage a spiraling situation at the border.
Officials have claimed court decisions left them with no other choice, but they’ve also chosen to expand the policy beyond any court’s order.
The Supreme Court ruled in December Title 42 will remain in effect while legal challenges play out, a victory for Republican-led states urging the Supreme Court to step in and block a lower court opinion which ordered the termination of the authority.
CNN’s Samantha Beech and Catherine E. Shoichet contributed to this report.