New York City’s Democrat Mayor Eric Adams declared a state of emergency on October 7th in response to the thousands of illegal immigrants arriving in the Big Apple by bus from Texas during the last several months. After having floundered at first over how to manage the influx of illegal immigrants into his city, Mayor Adams ended up deciding to house some of them in sparkling new tent city accommodations on Randall’s Island. The facility opened its doors on October 23rd.
The Randall’s Island tent city residents will consist mostly of men from Venezuela. Families with children will be offered hotel lodging, including at a $400-a-night hotel.
The illegal immigrant residents on Randall’s Island are being offered a place where they “can come, rest, relax and kick their feet up after the journey they have been on,” said Emergency Management Commissioner Zach Iscol. That is an understatement.
These illegal immigrants will enjoy such creature comforts as fluff-and-fold laundry service, Wi-Fi, and a lounge with plush couches to relax on while watching flat-screen TVs or playing video games on Xbox game consoles. If they get bored with those activities, they can play ping-pong, foosball, and board games while munching on popcorn. And there are phones that the illegal immigrants can use to make international calls. When it is time to eat, the illegal immigrants will be able to dine on three square meals a day that Mr. Iscol has assured reporters are “all culturally appropriate.”
In other words, the illegal immigrants housed at Randall’s Island will enjoy what amounts to a glamping experience. New York taxpayers will be stuck with the bill. Meanwhile, some homeless U.S. citizens, including veterans, are living on the streets or in unsanitary, unsafe shelters.
Mayor Adams complained that his city was unprepared to absorb the surge of illegal immigrants sent his way but would do the best that it can under the circumstances. “There was never any agreement to take on the job of supporting thousands of asylum seekers,” Adams grumbled during his state of emergency declaration announcement. “This responsibility was simply handed to us without warning as buses began showing up. There is no playbook for this, no precedent.”
Mayor Adams has conveniently forgotten that the border states had no “playbook” either when President Joe Biden opened the U.S.-Mexico border and allowed record numbers of illegal immigrants to enter the U.S. and remain in the country. While Mayor Adams has correctly called the flood of illegal immigrants into the country a national issue which demands a national solution, the only real way to begin fixing the problem has eluded him. In response to a reporter’s question whether he was asking President Biden “to slow the flow of migrants,” the mayor’s answer was a firm “No.”
The Biden administration at first dumped the illegal immigrants into border towns, which were forced to cope with the overwhelming burdens imposed on their resources. Then, without notice, the Biden administration selected other locations away from the border as well, including Westchester County in New York, to drop off illegal immigrants in the dead of night.
Eric Adams and mayors of other large Democrat-led sanctuary cities such as Chicago and Washington, D.C. did not show much concern about the surges of illegal immigrants burdening local communities’ resources until illegal immigrants began arriving on their doorsteps. Only after Texas and Arizona started busing north a small proportion of the new arrivals in their border towns did the sanctuary city mayors and the national media take serious notice. And, of course, they charged that Republicans such as Texas Governor Greg Abbott were using the illegal immigrants as props to stage a political stunt.
In New York City’s case, most of the illegal immigrants arriving by bus from Texas were not sent by Governor Abbott or by any other Republican. They were being sent until very recently by El Paso’s Democrat Mayor Oscar Leeser.
Mayor Leeser reportedly declined to declare a state of emergency in El Paso at the request of the Biden administration. The Biden team was worried that it would embarrass President Biden if a border city mayor from his own party took such a drastic step. Leeser’s solution was to simply spread the burden his city was facing from the surge of illegal immigrants and make El Paso’s problem New York City’s problem.
Mayor Adams avoided openly criticizing his Democrat counterpart in El Paso, Mayor Leeser, for shipping so many illegal immigrants to New York City. At the same time, Adams has strongly denounced Governor Abbott, who sent fewer illegal immigrants to the Big Apple. Unlike Mayor Leeser, however, Mayor Adams did declare a state of emergency in New York City. Yet he is incentivizing even more illegal immigrants to come to New York, who will expect to be housed and well-fed in cushy facilities like the Randall’s Island tent city.
Meanwhile, just yards away from the new tent city where illegal immigrants will be glamping is a dingy, run-down shelter housing homeless Americans. One resident from Brooklyn, who was angry when he learned about the comfortable living conditions the illegal immigrants will be enjoying in their new tent city, complained about the “awful” living conditions that he had to endure every day. He mentioned the foul odor on every floor, bathrooms filled with urine and excrement, the “raggedy bed” he sleeps on “with a hard mattress,” and food he often refused to eat “because that s..t will kill you.” The elevators in the high-rise shelter frequently malfunction as do the washing machines. No fluff-and-fold laundry services for the poor souls living in this shelter.
Mayor Adams decided not to impose a deadline on how long the illegal immigrants can stay in their cushy digs on Randall’s Island. “There is no limit to how long people that are seeking asylum can stay in this facility,” a senior official in the city’s Health Department said.
The tent city was originally supposed to be built in Democratic-Socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s district in the Orchard Beach area of the Bronx. But in true “not in my back yard” fashion, AOC objected. “I think we can get to a place with a better solution here,” she said.
Just demobilizing the original Orchard Beach facility and setting up its replacement on Randall’s Island cost $650,000. Who knows how much the amenities inside will cost, including all that “culturally appropriate” food.
Leftist pro-immigration activists are not satisfied, however. Take, for example, Murad Awawdeh, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition.
“The decision to open the Randall’s Island tent camp,” Awawdeh said,” is a stain on our city’s rich history of welcoming immigrants and is morally reprehensible.”
Awawdeh went on to accuse Mayor Adams’ administration of “confining new asylum seekers to isolated tents, vulnerable to inclement weather and removed from critical social services.” He added that “Mayor Adams has compromised New York City’s status as a beacon of hope.”
New York City is not losing its “status as a beacon of hope” because it is housing some of the recent illegal immigrant arrivals in a well-appointed tent city. What is compromising this status is the rampant crime enabled by insane progressive criminal justice “reforms” such as cashless bail and by Manhattan’s ultra-Left District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who returns career criminals to the streets.
The illegal immigrants residing in the Randall’s Island tent city with all of its amenities will be living well at taxpayers’ expense. Many disadvantaged New Yorkers who have been living in the city for a long time will not be so lucky.