(The Center Square) — Migrants arriving in New York City are being offered free one-way plane tickets to other destinations as the city grapples with an ongoing influx of thousands of asylum-seekers.
Mayor Eric Adams has set up a “reticketing center” for migrants that will provide them with tickets to anywhere in the world, according to a spokesperson. The administration says the move is necessary to drive down the number of migrants under the city’s care and make room for new arrivals.
“Here, the city will redouble efforts to purchase tickets for migrants to help them take the next steps in their journeys, and it helps us triage operations at The Roosevelt for new arrivals,” the spokesperson said, referring to the iconic Manhattan hotel that was converted into a migrant processing center.
So far, migrants have flown from New York City to destinations as far as away as Colombia and Morocco under the “reticketing” plan, according to some news reports.
The move comes as New York grapples with more than 130,000 migrants who’ve arrived over the past year amid a surge of immigration along the U.S.-Mexico border that has reached historic levels. The Big Apple is caring for more than 64,000 migrants in 200 emergency shelters in hotels and large encampments.
Under New York’s right-to-shelter law, the city is required to provide emergency housing to anyone who requests it, regardless of their immigration status.
The Adams administration says it costs about $394 a night to house and feed a migrant family, which has increased over the past year.
So far, more than $140 million in federal funds have been sent to New York City to support migrants, but Adams says that isn’t enough to cover the cost of caring for those arriving in the thousands daily. He has projected the cost could rise to $12 billion in coming years and would “destroy New York City” in the process.
Republican governors in border states have been critical of the Biden administration’s response to the surge. They’ve been busing groups of migrants to Democratic strongholds in New York, Chicago and other destinations with “sanctuary” policies.
The Adams administration is limiting stays by migrant families in emergency shelters to 60 days amid an ongoing surge of asylum-seekers. The city already limits single adult migrants to 30 days in emergency housing.
New York is the only major U.S. city that has a right-to-shelter law. Adams is asking a state judge to temporarily suspend the requirement amid the surge of migrants, but the effort is being challenged in court.
Details about how much money the city has budgeted for the program, or how much it spent to date on flights, weren’t available. The Adams administration points out that a domestic flight is often cheaper than the nearly $400 per day cost for housing an asylum-seeker in an emergency shelter.