September 28, 2023
Deputy Mayor Anne Williams-Isom, Health and Human Services: Good afternoon, everyone. I’m Anne Williams-Isom, and I’m the deputy mayor for Health and Human Services. For this week’s briefing, I’m excited to be joined by the mayor of Barranquilla, Colombia, Jaime Pumarejo. I’m also joined by the City’s Corporation Counsel, Judge Sylvia Hinds Radix, and by Dr. Ted Long, Senior Vice President at New York City H + H.
Since the first asylum seeker arrived in New York City in 2022, we have talked about how this is a larger national humanitarian crisis where people are coming from number of places around the world. Ultimately, political instability, economic depression and strife in one’s home country led them to the U.S., and for many, to New York City.
On the heels of the U.N. General Assembly last week, I’m glad to have an international voice with us to discuss how other international cities have dealt with large numbers of migrants coming to their cities. And with that, I will turn it over to Mayor Pumarejo.
Barranquilla Mayor Jaime Pumarejo: Thank you, Deputy Mayor. It’s a pleasure to take a few minutes to talk about what we’ve been doing in Colombia, how we’ve been able to receive in the last four years around 150,000 Venezuelans into our city — that’s at least 10 percent of our population — in which we have found a way with the national government and the international community to grant them work permits and to grant them temporary access to our health and social programs and to school programs in which we have 20,000 kids right now from the Venezuelan families going to our schools, attending our public health system.
But starting to pay their own way. We found a way through centers to integrate them into economic life so that they can start working, becoming productive members of society; and therefore, helping us out in terms of growing the economical, I would say scenario, of our city and therefore making them a part of the city instead of having to subsidize their way.
That’s I think been the shift that we’ve done in the last few months. Instead of trying to subsidize everything that a migrant needs, we’ve tried to make sure that they can get a job, that they can get an income generating source; and therefore, they can start making their way through paying for a lease, paying taxes and whatnot.
And that I think has been the difference. And I think, I applaud the decision of the New York mayor’s office to tackle this head on, and I think as a continent, as a hemisphere, we need to make sure with that we look and tackle these issues that generate massive migration into a lot of our countries. More than two million Venezuelans are in Colombia right now, and more are moving up the Darién Gap every day because they don’t… They can’t find a job anymore in Colombia.
And if we don’t plug up the problem in its source, and if we don’t look at our backyard and see what these systematic problems are of anti democratic, autocratic governments making these massive exodus happen, then we are going to have this happening over and over in our backyard. So, it’s okay to look at overseas for problems, but right now in our backyard, in our own hemisphere, we need to tackle these issues right now.
Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom: Thank you so much, mayor. It’s just so interesting, because there’s so many similarities of what you’re saying is occurring for us right now and that you all have pivoted and really looking towards this path forward, which is about people working and about not subsidizing on your own and really how the federal…your, you know, national government has helped with that.
We appreciate your time and hearing about the steps your federal government took to tackle the crisis in your country. As we have been saying from the very beginning of this humanitarian crisis in our country, the asylum seeker issue is a national issue here in the United States as well, which requires a comprehensive national response from our federal government. Just as New York City needs more help from its state and federal partners, municipalities around the country and around the globe need support as well.
I’d now like to share some updates on what’s happening here on the ground in New York City. As many of you have probably read, we’re seeing another surge at the border with thousands of people passing through border towns like Eagle Pass. And despite fluctuating numbers at the border over the past few months, we’ve never seen a slowdown of the arrivals into New York City, and you all know that because I tell you the numbers week after week.
And those numbers have been even higher in the past couple of recent days. This past weekend we got word that the city of El Paso would resume bussing on top of the buses that are still being sent from Governor Abbott and the State of Texas. So, today, we are releasing updated flyers to combat misinformation at the border and in cities across the country where people are coming to New York City from. We want people to know what New York City is able to provide and what New York City isn’t able to provide any longer.
In the coming days, we will be distributing these flyers at our shelters and intake centers in New York City as well as through NGOs and nonprofits across the country. Here in our shelters, because we know that there are people in our shelters who are telling their family members to come to New York City and that they’ll get housing and that they’ll be able to stay with them, that is no…that has never been the case, but we want to make sure that we’re being clear with people that New York City is out of space. We’ll also share this with other municipalities at the border and across the country.
While we are working to slow the front door, we’re also working to increase exits from the shelter system through intensive case management, our work authorization sprint and our 30 day notices. I’ll now pass it to Dr. Long for an update on those case management efforts and a few words about what he’s been seeing on the ground at the arrival center over the past few days. Dr. Long?
Dr. Ted Long, Senior Vice President, Ambulatory Care, New York City Health + Hospitals: Thank you, deputy mayor. So, as the deputy mayor said, we are seeing a sharp increase in the number of asylum seekers coming into New York City every day. This will continue to strain our already strained system. Today, though, I want to talk about some of our larger strategies that as the deputy mayor said will be our path forward; and for so much of this, the backbone will be case management.
The first thing that we’re doing now is we’re currently undertaking a census. We’re asking the same set of questions to every asylum seeker in every part of our system from our DHS system to H + H Humanitarian Centers, or, HERRCs. Those questions include what stage of the process you’re in with respect to seeking asylum and work authorization, and what areas do you still have that with our help you might be able to surmount and be able to complete your journey taking the next step forward and leaving our system.
To date, we’ve completed these assessments on nearly 70 percent of all of the asylum seekers across our entire system. That’s going to form the basis of the case management program that we are now launching called our Red, Yellow, Green Program. This program is going to have people in the green color category, if you have a few barriers that our case managers can work with you and overcome fairly quickly so that, again, you can take your next step forward and leave our system.
Yellow means you have a few more barriers we’re going to work with you on and give you the help that you need. Red means that you have more intensive barriers, and therefore, might require a referral, for example, to a lawyer. We’re going to be having multiple touch points with every asylum seeking household each month as the program ramps up.
Another way that we’ve leveraged case management so far is as it pertains to our 60 day policy. Now, our 60 day policy is not just the time limit for asylum seekers, it’s a deadline for us as a city to be able to help asylum seekers to take their next step forward and exit our city system.
The first group of people that we gave out 60 day notices to had day 61 occur this past Friday. So, looking at those whose day 61 was this past Friday through early this week, because of our help, on day 61, less than half of those still under our care on day 61 needed to come back to the arrival center for another placement in our city system. The majority of asylum seekers that were still with us on day 61, due to the help that we’ve given them over the past 60 days, were able to take the next step forward, exit our system and not need to reenter for another placement.
Today I want to say a couple of things also about the future directions we’re going in for work authorization and temporary protected status. For work authorization, the census we’re doing lets us target resources by knowing where you are in the asylum application process, whether you’ve completed the 589 form, if you then have to wait the five month period if you’re ready to complete the 765 or work authorization form.
We’re finding that some people have already been, it’s already been five months, so we can immediately intervene even with teams on site today helping to complete the work authorization form and then making appointments in our application center so that you can submit that form and get work authorization as quickly as possible.
Same thing if you came across the border using the CBP 1 app, we’re going to know that through the census we’re doing, and part of our case management strategy is going to immediately connect you to completing the work authorization paperwork that you’re eligible for on site and have it submitted for you as fast as possible.
For Temporary Protected Status — this is announcement that the federal government made last week — what I want to say about this today is that the announcement is that Venezuelans within a certain time period will have the ability to apply for Temporary Protected Status but it’s not currently live.
So, what we’re doing to prepare for that is we’re using our census to determine who is likely eligible in terms of those coming from Venezuela within that certain time period and using our census data, we’re going to know all of that and then we’re going to have teams ready to leap into action to connect with those individuals as soon as they can submit their Temporary Protected Status applications which are concurrently submitted with the work authorization applications so they can work as fast as humanly possible.
We estimate today that we still have about 22,000 Venezuelans that likely meet that criteria in our system, so we’ll be able to engage with them immediately when the Temporary Protected Status applications go live.
So, in sum, some I just want to say that case management and all these connections to how we can help asylum seekers to get the data specific help and services they need so they can take the next step forward and leave our system is an important new direction that we’re taking now at this stage of the crisis. With that, back to you, Deputy Mayor.
Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom: Thank you, Ted. As Dr. Long mentioned, despite the surge we’ve been seeing, we’re keeping our eyes on our long term plan. I want to remind everyone, we’re dealing with the crisis, but we’re also long term planning. We know that the only way that we’re going to get out of this crisis is getting people connected with the support they need to that they can move out of shelter and build stable and self sufficient lives.
But as we always say, we cannot do this alone. This surge shows just how important additional financial resources and a consistent decompression strategy are to successfully addressing this humanitarian crisis. I’m hopeful that the state and federal governments will see this and step in and lean in more to that.
Finally, I want to share an update on the news, as Dr. Long did, on the Biden administration’s last week extending Temporary Protected Status for a subset of Venezuelans in our care. It’s a little confusing, so I want to walk through it again.
I want to echo Mayor Adams by saying to you all that we are so grateful for what the President did and for his team for taking this very important step. It is a big deal. When we heard the news last week, our teams immediately got to work; and thankfully, with our asylum seeker application help center up and running, we have a strong infrastructure in place to help us identify and figure out who the eligible asylum seekers are and help them to fill out the proper paperwork once the federal government finalizes a rule.
Our current plan is to try and have people apply for TPS, work authorization and complete the waiver application — three separate forms — at the same time to best manage the process. Remember, these forms are dozens of pages that people need to fill out along with numerous photocopies, translations and supporting documents, so we want to make sure to be as efficient and effective as possible during this process.
We’re also working with our federal partners to hopefully ease some of the bureaucracy around this process and make sure that people can get work authorization as quickly as possible. As many of you know, there’s a fee associated with submitting these applications online; and while we hope that the federal government will waive these, last week we immediately reached out to philanthropy and business partners to see if we can have them contribute to help us subsidize those costs.
Logistically, TPS extension is a rule that needs to go through the federal government process to be registered. We expect this to take a few weeks, but we’re doing everything that we can right now to hit the ground running when that rule is registered. We have also asked the federal government to issue work authorizations based on pending TPS applications rather than waiting until the TPS applications are fully approved, which we know can take months or even years.
With all that said, I’ll now turn to our data update. As of September 24th, we have over 115,200 people in our care, including over 61,400 asylum seekers. Over 118,800 asylum seekers have come through our intake system since last spring. We have opened 210 sites including 17 humanitarian relief centers. And last week, from September 18th to September 24th, more than 3,000 new asylum seekers entered our care.
New York is and always will be a city of immigrants, and we will always do our part to contribute to this national crisis, but one city cannot support tens of thousands of asylum seekers without additional state and federal partners with no end in sight. This is an effort that needs reinforcement in the form of financial support, a comprehensive decompression strategy and a declaration of a Federal Emergency to unlock faster support from Washington. With that, I’ll open up the floor to questions.
Question: Deputy Mayor, so yesterday the city asked the court to revise its initial motion to change Right to Shelter, but it wasn’t exactly clear what the city is asking for now. Can you give us an idea of what the content of that request will be?
Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom: Sure. I will let the judge ask, but what I will say for…I won’t put words in her mouth but I will say clearly the status quo cannot stay the way it is. So, Judge, would you like to answer that?
Sylvia Hinds-Radix, Corporation Counsel, Law Department: Yesterday, and I’m sure you all know that we went to court on the Callahan issue, and our initial request for the court and in our initial letter was with reference to modification. Let me make it clear, we never asked to get rid of the Right to Shelter. Yesterday the judge that was handling that matter recused, and so we are now with a new schedule to present a specific document to the court that we have to present by October 3rd on the request that the city’s making.
And so while we are now in the process of looking at that, we are…we will…I wouldn’t tell you what our litigation strategy is going to be, but that will…we will abide by the court’s request and have that sent by October 3rd and I’m sure you’ll get a copy of that document.
Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom: And I think that sometimes, Judge, when I think about it, when we first went into court that was May. We’ve been getting 10,000 people a month since then, what is that, 40,000 people ago?
Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom: So, it is clear to everyone, I think every single New Yorker that the status quo cannot continue.
Hinds-Radix: And we’re clearly…our position is that we want the court to look at where we are now. Everybody knows it’s a document that worked 40 years ago. We are quite clear that what we have is not sustainable, and so that’s going to be one of the issues that we’re going to be dealing with.
Question: Yes. Thank you. Dr. Long, when was the census begun? How many staffers or volunteers are involved in collecting the information? A little more about the questionnaire and what [you keep tabs on], please?
Long: Yes, definitely. Thanks for asking. So, we started to do this census a couple of weeks ago, so it is remarkable that we’ve been able to achieve almost 70 percent of the totality of all the asylum seekers across all of our city systems in just a matter of weeks.
And the staff that are doing it are our existing staff, but we’ve also brought in agencies like PEU that have stepped up to help us to be able to move as fast as we can, because again, this data really comprises the basis for how we’re going to do the effective case management to be able to connect people to the specific things that they need, the help that they need in order to be able to leave our system.
In terms of the number of staff that are working on this, it is hundreds, and that is staff from my teams and again, staff from PEU. But we’re making it a very concerted effort intentionally because this is also a way to speed up and go as fast as possible to identify who is eligible for work authorization, have them complete that paperwork, which again, I said at our larger sites we’ve been starting on site to not miss a single moment to enable people to work as quickly as possible.
Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom: Yes, can I just clarify? You said census, you mean survey?
Long: Yes, so…
Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom: We’ve been always looking at the census, but this is a new sprint, survey sprint. So, just say that again, yes, please.
Long: We’ll call it an assessment survey. An so to answer your question about that. So, at the arrival center we’ve collected similar information since the arrival center opened in May of this past year. So, for example, when you came to the arrival center you may have said, if you came in May, that you hadn’t completed the 589 form yet. Okay.
So, at the time we would have educated you about what it is and how to complete it. But this is following up to see, did you complete it now; and also, if you completed in May right after we talked to you, for example, you may be soon eligible to submit because that 150 days is almost past, may be nearing eligibility to submit your work authorization paperwork.
So, having real time data now is the most precise way to know who is eligible to submit their work authorization paperwork both from when you submitted the 589 form for asylum which you may have told us you hadn’t submitted at the time to who now has come across the border using the CBP 1 app. So, that enables us basically just to target our resources right now to move as fast as we can.
Also in this survey, we’re asking questions about the barriers that you currently have to be able to leave. Those barriers can change over time. You may have intended to stay with your brother in Chicago, that might have fallen through. Maybe there’s a sister in LA. So, right now, again, by us collecting all this data now it powers our ability to have effective case management because we know going into case management generally what you need if you’re Red, Yellow or Green, starting with the greens, seeing what help we can offer you immediately so that we can, in the most expeditious way, help you to be able to have the help to leave our system.
Question: Hi. Two things, guys. So, the first one is that Governor Greg Abbott said today that they’ve only bussed around 15,800 migrants to New York City. What do you guys kind of think of that number; and if not from Texas, where else are they being bused from? And then the second thing I was hoping to ask is, last week the Mayor said that the number of Venezuelans was about 15,000, and then he narrowed that down to 9,000. So, where are we getting the 22,000 number now?
And the state has been saying that they’re not getting accurate numbers, either. So, just trying to see, do you guys have like a shared database that you guys are putting these numbers, and is that something that reporters can eventually access as well?
Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom: Whoo, there’s a lot of questions. So, Abbott, I don’t know what I want to say about the accuracy of his buses and all that other kind of stuff. I hope that when he’s here he can get a glimpse of what it really looks like to deal with the humanitarian crisis in a humane way.
We’ve talked to you before that we know that we get buses from El Paso and other places when they’re trying to decompress on their own, so we know that we’re getting buses from other cities. We know that other people are coming here from Chicago, from Denver, from other parts of the United States when their time…if there’s time limits in other places or they feel like they can’t find work, then they come to New York City. So, we know that it comes from all different places.
So, we know that there… When we looked last week, that remember, we’re only talking about Venezuelans who have come since July 31st. So, when sometimes people are like, how many Venezuelans do you have? That total number could be different than the amount that are eligible for this particular program. So, I want us to be careful about what we’re saying and the questions that we’re asking for.
So, and I also know that my friend from immigration coalition was talking about 60,000, and he clarified today we talk about 60,000 throughout the state, right? And so, and then there’s numbers like 150,000 people have done the CBP app, that’s throughout the United States. So, we’ll get you very clear numbers.
And so we do, we have been working very closely with the state. They’ve been great partners are helping us really look at our data, look at the case management. And I just want to go back to something that Dr. Long said. These are people that we’re dealing with, so circumstances change. So, we want to, good case practice is about going back to people and doing that management so that you can see where they are so that you can connect them to what they need to be connected to.
So, I’m happy that we have that infrastructure in order to do that, but you know of all people when you’re getting 3,000 people a week, all of that gets complicated. But I’m I’m super proud of the way the team has been doing this work.
Long: Can I add one thing to that, too, from just in terms of the number itself. You know, as we said, we’re doing this comprehensive assessment census right now to be able to give you the most precise…and for us to be able to use the most precise numbers in terms of understanding where people are in the process, the proportion of people that have come through the CBP 1 app, the proportion of people that are Venezuelan meeting that criteria.
So, we’re 70 percent through the census now, so the number could change again. But that’s okay. The important thing is for us to get the correct… Not just the correct number but know where everybody is that will be immediately reached out to when they can start to submit their Temporary Protected Status applications. That’s why we’re doing the census.
Question: Thanks. Can you give us an update on how many 60‑day, slash, 30‑day notices have gone out; and, of the people that have had to leave so far starting Friday, how many people is that, what’s that number? And have they all gotten intensive case management, or can you give me a number of intensive case management that’s been given to people who have these 60‑day notices, if that makes sense.
Long: It does.
Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom: Ted, do you have those numbers in front of you?
Long: I was going to start with your last question and back into the first numerical one…
Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom: Okay.
Long: …While we pull up the data.
Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom: I got it.
Long: So, the last part of your question was when we talk about intensive case management. Who are we referring to. And I was careful in my remarks to say we intentionally started to do the 60‑day notices at one site, one of my sites. At that site, it was paired with intensive case management, and that’s why over time we actually saw some people be able to leave before day 60. But in particular,m when we reached day 61 we did…when people were nearing day 61, three days ahead, we again talked to people, saw where they were, see what help they needed.
So, that approach resulted in the data that I shared with you, which is representative of just that one site, because every 61st day that’s hit so far is pretty much just at that one site.
Long: Yes. Going forward…very good, Gwen. Going forward, you know, at the different sites because we do have a diverse system people may have had different experiences with case management than they did at the sites that I’m in control of. But what I can say is that the goal moving forward is when we’ve launched our new case management program ‑‑ which is being launched now, so if you go to many sites now they’ve never heard of this before ‑‑ the intention of this new program is to be able to give everybody the same experience with two touch points per household per month in every part of our system. Doesn’t exist today, but we’re collecting the data to power the program so that when it is fully launched we’ll be able to be off to a running start.
Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom: And the numbers are, let’s see, 13,500 people have received a 60‑day notice and approximately 690 people have received a 30‑day notice.
Question: And I’m sorry, how…
…had the time up, how many people…
Long: Several hundred. Sorry.
Question: I want to follow up on Morgan’s question whether you call it an assessment, a survey, whatever. Will you commit to releasing today the aggregated results as well as the questions, the exact questions that were asked? That’s the first question. Second and potentially for the judge. For the purposes of the 60‑day or the 30‑day notice, once the folks got their TPS situation resolved and are TPS beneficiaries, will the city treat them any differently from ordinary to traditional homeless population in New York; and if you will, what’s the legal basis for treating them differently?
Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom: I don’t even understand the question. So, I’m going to…can we do the… I’m going to do… Can I do the first one?
Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom: So, we’re going to give you the data — as we always have — when we have it and when we’re ready to share it to make sure that it’s as accurate as we need it to be. And so I’m not going to commit today just to give you something. I…no, what you asked me to do was to commit to give you something. I said I’m not committing today to give you anything.
I think what we’ve always done and what I’ve done pretty effectively, we’ve told you we were going to open an arrival center, we come back and we tell you what’s happening and how it’s going. We told you we were going to open a legal clinic, we come back and we give you the numbers.
We are in the process of making sure that we have all of our numbers scrubbed. You know, the other day we were talking about somebody who was living in Ecuador who wrote down on the form that they were from Ecuador, and it turned out that originally they were from Venezuela. So, we want to make sure that all that we’re giving and how accurate the numbers are, and we’ll do that when the time comes. So, that’s what I will say. I will let you know.
Long: Well just to say, I will commit to using the data to help the asylum seekers in our system. It’s not just about statistics, this is how we know what help people need and how we’re going to effectively use case management to target resources to enable people to get the specific help that they need. I know it’s not what you’re asking, but that is the most important thing.
Question: Then the second question…
Hinds‑Radix: And throughout, and the second question is what would the city do. And I will say to you that the city will commit and continue to follow the legal process it has been following. In view of the fact that we are currently in several pieces of litigation it depends on what a court determination is and what directive we’re given from the court; and based on that, that is the procedure that the city will follow.
Question: Can I just follow up with just one follow up. If you’re relying on data, like you just said, you’re going to rely on the data, which means it’s in a form that you can rely on, why can’t we get the data that you are relying on?
Long: So, the way that we…
Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom: Nope.
Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom: Asked and answered.
Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom: Let’s not…let’s not…let’s not be rude to each other. Don’t say he dodged it. I got it.
Question: So, just follow up on the last question. So, I asked, in response of the mayor the other day had told us that there is 15,000 Venezuelans that were eligible for TPS.
Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom: Yep.
Question: Now you’re saying 22,000.
Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom: Yep.
Question: So, the reason why we’re asking for you to release this data is that when court rulings come out, when TPS change, we need to tell the public how this actually affects them, and I think it wasn’t properly communicated with the public last week with the TPS. So…
Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom: So, Craig…
Question: .[Inaudible] done…
Deputy Mayor: Craig, I’m not unclear why you asked the question. I think we answered it. I understand.
Question: Okay, could you… So…
Question: No, I mean, my question was going to be on the TPS, that you’re getting ready for this sprint of getting people their work authorizations, so that’s 22,000, up from 10,000 last week. How long will it take to get these 22,000 people work authorizations, the paperwork, your side of things not the federal side.
Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom: Yes, so what I explained was that we’re waiting for the rule to be registered, and once the rule is registered I’m really happy that we have the infrastructure of the asylum seeker legal clinic that we stood up, that we didn’t have to stand up, that we decided that we wanted to do. We’ve gotten over 4,600 people signed up for their asylum application. Now we’re working, we have the federal government here this week that’s with us that’s working and doing that sprint also.
And so we think that we’ve been, you know, with the 4,600 applications that we started just in the end of June, having hundreds of people working on this I think we’ve been able to do it very quickly. We also know that once they get that designation, doesn’t necessarily mean that they can work right away, so we’re trying to make sure that they can work right away and we’re trying to make sure the process, which can usually, Craig, take sometimes months and years, that we are able to connect people as quickly as possible.
I just want, you know, I feel good about New York City has, this is a humanitarian crisis, right? We’ve gotten over 118,000 people here. New York City is doing it. We are feeding people. We are clothing people. We are housing people. We are trying to connect people to legal services. We are working with hundreds of community‑based organizations and clergy in order to get this done.
And so we are going to continue to do that good work that we’re doing so that we have exit strategies so people can get connected to what they need to and they can get resettled. We’ve been doing three jobs. We’ve been doing a federal job, I’ve been doing the state job of resettling folks and we’re doing the city part of his job. We would like other people to step up and support us.
Long: And I just want to add to that, too, Craig, if I may. From a case management point of view this is not something that you can effectively do in 24 hours and determine where somebody’s going to spend the next several years of their life. What we’re doing now is we’re doing the survey or assessment first, and in the last couple of weeks we’ve completed…
Deputy Mayor: 10,000?
Long: …Tens of thousands.
Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom: Yes.
Long: So, we’re moving very fast here and the state has supported us in giving us $20 million to do this case management work going forward. So, I don’t want to diminish the importance and longitudinal aspect of case management. My mom’s a social worker, this is a process that takes time. You have to get to know somebody, work through their issues, and it’s not something you can necessarily solved in a day or a week.
When Temporary Protected Status, when people are able to apply for it, our teams are in gear to be able to immediately engage the people that we believe are from Venezuela within a certain time period that the federal government has laid out. We’re going to move fast. We’re going to do as much as we can over a period of even weeks.
But I just want to make the important point that we’re not going to solve this in a week. You know, with case management it’s about setting things up now and then working this through with people over weeks or months to determine where they’re going to spend potentially the rest of their life.
Question: Thank you.
I just want to clarify something in all the numbers, because there’s a lot of numbers being put out. 22,000, is that 22,000 Venezuelans who are eligible for TPS and work permits, or just TPS? And then I have a second question about Abbott for you, Deputy Mayor.
Long: So, TPS, though as we said, we’ve completed 70 percent of our surveys now, it’s possible that number will change. The important thing to us is not the number itself as much as this gives us a target opportunity to know who we need to reach out to the minute it goes live.
Question: [Inaudible] can also get the expedited work permit?
Question: So, where did the 9,500 number come from that the mayor…
Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom:The 9,500 number was the number that we talked about last week where we said out of the 15,000, 9,000 were adults and the others were children. Right.
Question: But now it’s 22,000. So, where is… Where did…
Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom: So, he’ll have to get you the breakdown of the adults and the children and the 22,000.
Long: And because we’re collecting more data, we’re really belaboring this point, but we’re collecting more data every day. So, when we get to…
Question: [Inaudible] the mayor had a whiteboard…
Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom: I got it. Yes. I remember. I remember. And so we’re… So, we’re going to get it. We’re going to get the numbers to you. Like I said, we’re going to keep on doing the assessment and we’re going to go from there. And can I just say this, you all, I just want to set the tone a little bit. When New Yorkers ask me questions, they don’t say, how many Venezuelans are in the system; they say, Deputy Mayor, how come the federal government is not giving you more help? Deputy Mayor, when…are we really going to have a $12 billion budget and what are the things that we need to do in order to get that budget down so that we don’t have to affect other services?
So, I understand that this is an important issue. We will get you the information. But please don’t tell me it’s because the public is dying to know the numbers of Venezuelans. The public is dying to know how we are in a responsible way working to connect people to work and getting people resettled, which is what we’ve always said that we wanted to do. We want to make sure that we are providing people with as much support as we can and that we can move them along.
So, I just want to like balance this a little bit in terms of the telephone. I understand your frustration and we’ll get you the information.
Question: Can I just ask, Deputy Mayor…
Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom: He did, he said he had a question about Abbott.
Question: I in fact did. So, Abbott.
Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom: Thank you, deputy mayor, for acknowledging. Thank you.
Question: So, about Abbott. During his remarks earlier he was commending the mayor on taking the president to task and calling for more federal action. But he said that the real solution is to build a border wall. And I guess I’m wondering, when you guys are talking about a decompression strategy, is a border wall an acceptable part of the decompression strategy?
Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom: So, I’m not the governor, so I can’t speak about what he thinks is an appropriate strategy. What I can say is that I do think that the Republicans in Congress along with all of Congress should be working with the White House to come up with a comprehensive immigration reform so that no one jurisdiction has to deal with an immigration national issue on its own.
Question: All right. So, Dr. Long you had mentioned earlier that the 30‑day, 60‑day limits were not for the migrants but also a limit for you to help them, right…
Question: …Succeed in moving forward. Now, if they don’t find other housing or able to transition out of your system, would you consider that a failure on your part; and if it is a failure on your part to help them, what else can they do, assuming, of course, that they’re doing everything that they can.
Long: Yes. So, I would not consider it a failure if within 60 days we’re not able to for 100 percent of asylum seekers determine and execute on where they’re going to spend the next several years of their life. It’s complicated. And I think it’s also important, as the Deputy Mayor said, to recognize people have individual challenges. That’s the premise behind having what I referred to as our Red, Yellow, Green Program. If it was the same for everybody, it would be one color.
But we want a group people into the different color schemes because that shows the different barriers that different people have. We have some people that come and we’re able to help them to complete their journeys the first day when they arrive; in fact, at the arrival center, one out of every four people that come through the front door the arrival center today and every day will leave within 24 hours with our help resettling in New York City or being reticketed to somewhere else to complete their journey. For others, one day wouldn’t be possible because their goal might be to stay with a family member they haven’t talked to in a few years.
So, the 60‑day deadline that we give ourselves as a city is where we want to apply case management and help as many people as we can. But if some people need more time, that’s why we write wrote on the 60‑day notice to return to the arrival center to talk to us about what your current barriers are, see how we can help you to surmount them, and we’ll give you another 30‑day placement to enable us to have more of an opportunity to work with you with our case managers to help you to overcome your barriers.
Question: Hey, thank you. I had a couple questions. One, the changes, potential changes to the Right to Shelter, I’m wondering how would the city protect, you know, New Yorkers who are already here in terms of their Right to Shelter. If there are changes that are made to that Right to Shelter for migrants, you know, how would you make sure that New Yorkers who were already here and experiencing homelessness are not affected?
And my second question is about the flyers. I’m wondering, you know, how is the city getting these flyers out to people at the border? Do you guys have employees? Have you contracted someone? And then secondly, the flyer itself appears to have statements that, I don’t know, I don’t know if they’re necessarily true, like isn’t the city still using hotels to house people, and aren’t you helping people apply for work permits? So, are you guys backing up the veracity of those statements in the flyer?
Hinds‑Radix: Yes, I think what you’re asking… When you ask about the Right to Shelter, and it’s currently, we’re currently litigating that and wouldn’t be able to give you an answer about how it’s going to affect people. But it’s not it’s not going to be bifurcated where you’re saying that a Right to Shelter for people here and a Right to Shelter for somebody else. That’s not what is currently being addressed. So, and so we wouldn’t have a different response for you with reference to the Callahan case until we have been able to conclude the litigation that we are currently doing.
Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom: Hi, Jeff. This is the deputy mayor. I wanted to tell you, so the flyers, we are going to be distributing them in all of the above. So, WhatsApp, TikTok. We’re going to be talking with some of our partners down at the border, the NGOs. There’s staff, there’s federal staff that can help us hand it out, so we really want to do a full court press. We also talked about handing them out in other cities ‑‑ so, our sister cities, we will make sure we’re doing there.
I think the difference that I would say is that there’s no guarantee. We know that at the beginning of the crisis we were able to put people in hotels, we’re no longer I think putting men and single and adult families and men in hotels. We are helping to the extent that we can people do their work authorizations.
But we want people to know it’s expensive to live here, it’s hard to live here, that it’s not the way that it has been, because I think they are hearing the word, which is like, the front door’s just wide open, come. And so being truthful, of course, we’re always going to be truthful, but we definitely do want to discourage people from coming here so that we can pretty much deal with the 113,000 people that are in our system right now.
And I think the main way that we’re going to be able to bend the curve of the costs that we’re, you know, what we’re spending, Jeff, I had spoken to you about cutting costs to some of the ways that we are of the services that we’re providing. But if I still have 60,000 people, the main cost is really the cost of the census and housing people. So, we want to be responsible and tell people the truth about what they’re walking into.
Question: Great. I know we commented on the Callahan case today, but Judge Wayne Ozzi on Staten Island in his decision yesterday about the shelter at the former St. John Villa Academy, he commented on the Right to Shelter which seems to be in line with what the Adams administration is seeking.
So, I just wanted to see if, you know, you all would like to comment on that portion of his decision; and more generally, on why the city is choosing to appeal it.
Hinds‑Radix: Well, we, first of all, the decision that…his decision is looking at what we are seeking. That’s not the way we read this decision. This decision from Judge Ozzi deals with basically a violation of zoning, some suspended zoning. And there was some [dicta] about the Right to Shelter that wasn’t briefed and before the court.
And we will, since we’re in the midst of an appeal, I’m not going to make…I’m not going to say what our position is on that, I’ll wait until we have made the decision that we made. But clearly the court’s order also deals with executive orders and other pieces. And so we are taking the position that we have to protect the city’s rights and the Mayor’s ability to function as we undertake the appeal that we’re undertaking.
Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom: And Judge, let me just add. With 3,000 people still coming a week, it is clear that even though we’re working very hard in order to get exits, we need something, we are still going to need to be able to maintain and to deal with this crisis. We have 210 sites right now and 17 humanitarian centers. This is a lot.
And I don’t think one person can just say, okay, we don’t want to take… I think only two percent of the migrants are in Staten Island. I understand people’s frustration. But we unfortunately are in this situation because we’ve been asked as a municipality to deal with something that is a national crisis.
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