Mayor Eric Adams and several top officials in his administration will leave New York on Wednesday for several Latin American countries, where he won’t be speaking about the merits of New York City, but rather trying to convince potential migrants that if they come to the Big Apple, they might not get what they are looking for.
In what could be called a reverse tourism campaign, Adams and other officials will be venturing to Mexico, Ecuador and Colombia – nations where large numbers of migrants arriving in New York City in the past year have come from – in order to articulate to would-be migrants that New York City no longer has the opportunities or resources they might have hoped for.
Adams discussed the trip alongside several of his commissioners and deputy mayors on Tuesday at the first of a new series of off-topic media availability sessions, and took questions from reporters on the details of the trip and what he hopes to accomplish south of the border.
“We’re going to tell them that coming to New York doesn’t mean you’re going to stay in a five-star hotel,” Adams said on Tuesday. “It doesn’t mean that the mere fact you come here you automatically are going to be allowed to work.”
The four-day trip begins on Wednesday, and has a few goals in mind, including checking out the Darién Gap, the area where Central America meets South America. The Darién Gap is a common route for South American immigrants to make their way north.
“I want to see what’s happening in the Darién Gap to see what that flow looks like,” Adams said. “I was told by the rural leaders who came here during [United Nations General Assembly] that there is a heavy flow that’s coming through.”
Adams says that he needs “to go on the ground” to see the flow of migrants himself, and called an earlier trip he made to El Paso in January “eye opening.”
“I have to see what’s taking place,” he said.
The mayor said that he also wants to speak to individuals in the countries he’ll be visiting to try to articulate to them that the situation in New York is not as welcoming as they may have imagined, as housing options become more and more scarce.
“I want to give the people of those areas a real story of what is happening in New York City,” he said. “There is a public relation campaign that people are using in these areas to state that if you come to New York, that you’re going to get whatever you need…I want to give them a true picture of what’s taking place.”
“There’s a body of people who are there that are giving them false hopes and false promises,” he added.
According to Adams, the trip will apparently be self-funded, and will not be paid for with taxpayer money. The NYPD officers expected to accompany the mayor on the trip, however, will be paid with taxpayer funds.
“We should be clear, this could be done on taxpayers dime, let’s be clear on that,” he said. “Taxpayers can pay for this trip. We made the determination that during these tough fiscal times that we’re going to pick up our tab, but there’s nothing illegal or unethical if we would have charged this to taxpayers.”
Some groups, including the New York Immigration Coalition, are already criticizing the trip, saying that it is a waste of time.
“If Mayor Adams really wants to learn more about the arduous journeys of asylum seekers seeking safety, he should spend a little more time speaking with them or organizations on the ground serving them,” said Murad Awawdeh, the executive director of NYIC.
“The list of delays and mismanagement in easing the burden on our shelter system is a long one – and something that this administration should prioritize,” Awawdeh added. “Mayor Adams has no authority to affect any international policy changes, making this travel even more ridiculous. You need to be living under a rock to not know how asylum seekers are coming to the United States. We suggest that Mayor Adams focus on his work here in our great city.”
Meanwhile, back on the homefront, officials said Tuesday that the migrant crisis has not improved.
“I can’t believe that we’re still in this situation that we are talking about how many more sites we want to open,” said Deputy Mayor Anne Williams-Isom. “We have 118,000 people that have come to New York City. This is a national and an international crisis, and so I am frustrated that we are still talking about what’s happening.”
Williams-Isom added more called for a nationwide decompression strategy, a call that has so far gone unanswered.
“I’m concerned about families with children,” she said. “I’m concerned about the people that are coming here…It’s not good to raise your children in a hotel room, and everyone seems to think that that’s okay, and you’re asking how many more hotel rooms we’re going to need.”
The administration also said that the state and city are moving forward in the opening of the Floyd Bennett Field migrant shelter, which is separately facing a legal challenge brought by a group of Republican and Democratic lawmakers.
Source : Queen Sequle