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Eric Adams Heads to Mexican Border, as the Migrant Crisis Continues

Mayor Eric Adams is traveling from New York City to El Paso on Saturday to visit the border amid a crisis in which thousands of migrants from Latin America have been bused to the north.

The trip comes one day after Mr. Adams said he expected the influx of migrants to cost the city as much as $2 billion — significantly higher than previous estimates. The price tag could be “anywhere from $1.5 billion to $2 billion,” he told Caribbean Power Jam Radio on Friday. Previously, in November, as the stream of migrants into the city slowed, Mr. Adams said it would not cost the city $1 billion as had been initially feared, thanks to federal aid.

The costs associated with taking in so many migrants could exacerbate the potential budget shortfall the city is facing, Mr. Adams said.

“That money comes from our schools,” Mr. Adams said. “It comes from our public safety, our hospitals, our infrastructure.”

“Those are our tax dollars that it’s coming from,” he added.

The details of Mr. Adams’s one-night trip, announced late Friday afternoon with few specifics, were not immediately clear. His office said he was expected to make “multiple stops at and near the U.S. southern border as New York City continues to face an unprecedented influx of asylum seekers.” He plans to speak to reporters on Sunday.

Last spring, the Republican governors of Florida and Texas began sending a surge of people who had crossed the southern border seeking asylum to cities with Democratic elected leaders — New York, Washington, Chicago — saying they were placing the burden of the border crisis on left-leaning localities with so-called sanctuary city policies.

Since then, over 36,000 people have gone through New York’s system, and roughly 24,000 are still in the city, according to the latest figures from the mayor’s office.

In the fall, under the national spotlight, Mr. Adams directed the erection of an 84,400-square-foot tent housing center for single migrant men on Randalls Island. But President Biden’s administration shifted its immigration policies to expel new arrivals back to Mexico, easing those pressures and leaving the Randalls Island center less than half full. It was dismantled a month after its opening.

The Biden administration has also relied on a pandemic measure, known as Title 42, that allows U.S. officials to quickly deport migrants who have crossed into the country illegally.

This month, Mr. Biden announced one of his most stringent immigration measures yet: a policy that will deny specific groups of migrants the chance to apply for asylum if they cross the border without authorization, instead sending them to Mexico.

Those measures were applied to people from Nicaragua, Venezuela, Haiti and Cuba — the four biggest sources of migration.

But in a concession designed to soften the blow of the new restrictions, Mr. Biden said that as many as 30,000 people per month from the four countries would be given the chance to migrate legally to the United States. In order to do so, however, they would have to be able to afford a plane ticket, get a sponsor, download an app, pass a background check and meet other requirements.

To help manage the continued influx of migrants, a 153,300-square-foot processing center with a capacity of 1,000 opened on Wednesday in El Paso, Customs and Border Protection officials said.

Mr. Adams, a former police officer who has called himself the “future of the Democratic Party,” has grown increasingly critical of the Biden administration’s handling of the migrant crisis. He has repeatedly called for significant federal funding to help the city pay for shelter, food and school services for migrants.

The surge last year “impacted our city directly because, unfortunately, other municipalities chose to send people only to New York City,” Mr. Adams said during a news conference this month.

The city not only needs to house them, he said, but also provide food, clothing, education and health care.

“It’s not only unfair to New York City, it’s unfair to Washington, to Chicago, to El Paso,” he said. “All of these cities should not be handling a national crisis. This is a humanitarian crisis that was created by man, and man needs to fix it.”

Emma Fitzsimmons contributed reporting.

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