August 13, 2023
Gary Byrd: Mr. Mayor. Good morning.
Mayor Eric Adams: Hey, brother Gary. Always good to be on with you. And to everyone, happy birthday to hip-hop. 50 years. Who would have thought hip-hop would have brought us this far? First hip-hop mayor while we are celebrating. I just want to welcome everyone back to just another episode of Hear from the Mayor, and I am your mayor. So, feel free to call in: 212-545-1075, 212-545-1075. This is a show and a program where we want to continue the rich tradition of having New Yorkers hear directly from the mayor of the City of New York, and this is one of the many ways to reach me. You can also listen to my Get Stuff Done-Cast. It’s a podcast where I bring on interesting folks to talk about New York City. And also, you can visit nyc.gov/hearfromeric. But right now, you can call in: 212-545-1075.
Today’s broadcast, Gary, I’m really just proud to bring on my commissioner, Zach Iscol, the Commissioner of Emergency Management. He has been on the front lines of the issues of what we want to talk about today, and that’s the migrant and asylum issue that all of us are talking about and seeing the impact of it. I like to call Zach, the Captain, because not only has he been on the front line of this issue, but he’s a real leader and fighter on behalf of the freedom of this country. He’s a retired captain in the military and has put his life on the frontline in defending what we stand for as Americans. And you know what? If you’re going to be in a foxhole, this is the type of cat you want to be in the foxhole with.
More than a year, this administration has worked tirelessly to deal with the asylum seeker issue. This is something that is a national humanitarian crisis of epic proportion. Never before in the history of our city have we witnessed something like this. Over 98,000 asylum seekers have arrived here. And Gary, they came here, and based on existing procedures, we have to take care, housing, clothing, food, shelter, educate children. All of these things are now currently being on taxpayers dime and taxpayers responsibility. We’re doing this basically on our own. And if we don’t get the help we need, this is going to have a major economic impact on the city.
We are predicted to spend close to $12 billion in our Fiscal Year 2026, and it’s going to really impact our budget, impact our lifestyle, impact the quality of life in our city. The dam has burst. We saw that in front of the Roosevelt Hotel. We know we have to have a real response to this, and we need the national and state partners to continue to assist in making sure that we can manage this crisis. So I wanted to make sure that the captain is here with me. He’s been managing this on the front line, and we want to really give as much overview as possible to everyday New Yorkers so they can understand this issue. Zach, why don’t you give us just an update on what you’re seeing and what you have witnessed on the ground?
Commissioner Zach Iscol, New York City Emergency Management: Yeah. Well, first off, thanks for having me on. It’s great to be on this radio show and then getting to speak firsthand with New Yorkers, and thank you for that introduction, Mr. Mayor. Both of us are mama’s boys. We talked about this a lot, but we both lost our moms recently in the last couple of years and my mom would’ve loved to have heard that introduction from you. She’d definitely be all over that one, so thank you for those kind compliments. As the mayor said, we started to see an influx of asylum seekers, folks largely crossing the southern border, most of them from Venezuela, but now from really all parts of the world last August. And the city is now caring for close to 60,000 people, including nearly 20,000 children, more children than would fit in a sold out game at Madison Square Garden.
We’ve taken care of over close to a hundred thousand people in total, and it has really stretches to our capacity. And I think when you look back at the history of mass migration in this country, one of the things that really makes this different is in the past, whether it was Vietnamese in the seventies, European refugees after World War II, Cubans and 79-80. Haitians in the early nineties. Every time there was a huge robust federal government program run by the President to help with resettlement and processing of folks, and I couldn’t be prouder of what the city has done largely on its own to date, when you think about those numbers of people and each one of them is a human with a real story, but as the mayor has said, we reached a breaking point recently. I’m surprised that it took that long to reach it, and that’s really a credit to the incredible team. But we are now at a point where we really need more help from the state and certainly from the federal government.
Mayor Adams: What’s interesting, Gary and New Yorkers, as we discuss this, is the fact that this fiscal year is going to cost us roughly $5 billion, we’re expected to disperse. And that dollar amount is equivalent to some of our top agencies. We spent 1.4 billion and of course in fiscal year ’23, and for listeners fiscal years run from July 1st to June 30th each year. But we are now looking at if things do not change, our new estimates of spending is almost $5 billion. Now, how do you look at that when you hear those numbers?
That’s the equivalent of the budget for the Department of Sanitation, Parks, and Fire Department all combined. It’s just unbelievable when you think of these numbers. And so by July 2026, it’s predicted that we’re going to spend $12 billion. So that’s over twice the dollar amount and it is going to impact, again, I say over and over again, every city service that this city has to deliver for.
Every day, low income New Yorkers, New Yorkers who are struggling, it breaks our heart when we see some of the things we have to do to pivot and shift and address the unprecedented and unpredictable number of people who are coming to the city every day. The southern borders have now basically come up with a procedure that once someone comes into the country, they send them up to New York City through buses, through flights, through all forms of transportation just to get here to New York. And it’s impacting us in a real way. And New Yorkers, we wanted to speak directly to them and let them know, there’s nothing we enjoy about having to move soccer fields, nothing we enjoy about really moving and changing and shifting inside their local communities. This is beyond our control and we want our local New Yorkers to really continue to lift their voices, but to allow to let our national government know that this should not be on the backs of New York City residents.
Byrd: This is your opportunity at 212-545-1075, 212-545-1075 to talk to the mayor. This program is called Hear from the Mayor. You get a chance to speak to the mayor. Give us your calls right now. 212-545-1075. Mayor Eric Adams on the air with a new broadcast, Hear from the Mayor and he wants to hear from you. Let’s go to our calls right now. Thank you for joining us. Give us your first name and where you’re calling us from.
Question: Hello, my name is Nina and I’m calling from Manhattan.
Question: Hi, Mr. Mayor.
Mayor Adams: Yes, how are you? Good to hear for you this morning.
Question: I’m okay. Yes. I’m going to try not to get a emotional while I speak about my issue. I’ve been working for HRA for over 25 years and… Sorry.
Mayor Adams: It’s okay. Take your time. Take your time.
Question: Let me breathe.
Mayor Adams: There you go.
Question: Okay. Okay. Anyway, September 2021, we returned back to work. I put in for a reasonable accommodation, which was granted from my doctor, et cetera. So my reasonable conversation was granted and throughout the time that it was granted maybe three month increments, the doctor would give an update to have it extended more, throughout the time of my teleworking from home. On March of 2023, the doctor submitted information again for me to be granted telework because they would send paper information saying I had returned back unless the doctor would send in for an appeal. So I’m trying to make a long story short.
So nonetheless, March 2023, I was denied my last reasonable accommodation to telework from home. And the reason being was because it says I will no longer be able to perform all my essential job duties as an ES no longer from home. I’m calling and I’m hoping to get assistance because I’ve went back to work because of course I have to go back to work, but I’m having a really difficult time while I’m there and I’m calling because I am able to perform my job at a hundred percent capacity as I was doing during the pandemic and during my telework time.
Mayor Adams: Okay. Okay. So hold on, hold on. So I don’t want to cut you off. But I want to make sure… Because this is something that’s dealing personally with you, I need for you to call and speak to Melody Ruiz, and I’m going to call her at the end of this show and she’s going to connect you with me and I’m going to look over your case. I don’t want you to give your full name over the air, but speak with Melody Ruiz in HR and I’ll give you a call tomorrow after I get the preliminary of your case. Okay?
Question: Okay. So when do I reach her? What number?
Mayor Adams: Just call City Hall switchboard or anyone in HR. Just look at your directory and anyone in HR will be able to connect you with her and I’m going to reach out to her when I get off this radio and tell her to expect your call. Just give me your first name. Just your first name,
Question: Okay. Okay,
Mayor Adams: Give me your first name.
Mayor Adams: Okay. Reach out to her and I’m on it now. Let me look into it for you, okay?
Mayor Adams: Thank you for your work.
Question: Thank you very much.
Mayor Adams: All right, take care.
Byrd: Nina. Thank you for your call. What a great example of what it is you’re attempting to do with this broadcast, Mr. Mayor. No question about it. The emotion was real. You could hear it. 212-545-1075, Hear from the Mayor, and the mayor wants to hear from you. Thanks for your call. Good morning, first name and who are you?
Question: Hi, good morning. My name is Annie and I’m calling from New Jersey. My question is, how safe is New York with all the immigrants coming, migrating, how safe are you going to make New York be? Because I had tagged you a video when I was in Dubai at the train station. How they secure the train station there in Dubai and I kept tagging you. Maybe you see it. I don’t know if any one of your workers or assistant saw the tag of a video of a train station when I was in Dubai. I want to travel to New York and enjoy shows in New York, but I refuse to do so anymore because I don’t know how safe is New York, traveling from New Jersey to New York. When are you going to make the train area safe so that people will be able to be comfortable taking the train?
Byrd: Thanks for your call, sister.
Mayor Adams: Thank you so much, sister. It’s so important to separate facts from reality and let’s dig into the facts. When we inherited the city, January 1st, 2022, crime was trending upward. No one wanted to be on the subways. No one wanted to move through the city. We are now peaking out at 4 million riders.
When you look at the number of riders, we get an average of six felony crimes a day with peaks of 4 million riders. Due to numbers, it speaks for itself. Crime is at record levels in the subway system and decreasing. We have decreased homicides, decreased shooting, decreased major crimes in the city.
New York City is the safest big city in America. So I don’t know what part of Jersey you are or what city you in, but when it comes down to 8.8 million people, the stats show clearly, New York City’s the safest big city in America. The city is extremely safe. And if you are missing out on Broadway, if you’re missing out on celebrating hip-hop, it’s 50. Don’t be in prison with fear. Be free with enjoying your life. We have one of the best police departments when it comes down to dealing with crime. We turn the corner, the city is back in full swing. So just listen. Come on, take that ferry, take the path, drive across the George Washington Bridge. I want you in New York because I want you to spend some money over here.
Byrd: This is Hear from the Mayor. You’re listening to the mayor himself, Mayor Eric Adams. Join us this morning wherever you’re listening from. As you do, let us know your first name and where you’re calling from. Good morning, you’re in the air.
Question: Hey, good morning. Good morning
Byrd: Go ahead, caller. Go right ahead.
Question: My name is Rosalyn and I’m calling from the Bronx, which I’ve been a native Bronx most of my life and I’ve seen a lot of things. So I grew up with things like the theater program and summer youth. And although I am not biased to people because everybody life is precious, but you have to make it make sense to me with this immigrant.
I mean the funds, it’s unbelievable the resources that we don’t have. Okay? Now the only thing that I see that’s happening is all negativity. You have to show me where some positivity. I’ve seen where the immigrants were sleeping outside, people walking downtown in Manhattan and they were throwing objects at the people just walking by. It’s so scary because New York was in a mess before this—
Byrd: Sister, let me just jump in for a minute because our time is going to run short. Brother Eric, I think you can hear the direction of the question. Why don’t you give her a response?
Mayor Adams: Yeah. And okay, first of all, we have to be very careful when we see something negative happen to automatically determine it’s a immigrant. A non-immigrant, if it’s a citizen, it’s a non-citizen. If someone was throwing objects, I’m sure no one went up to them and said, “Let me see your immigration status.” And so we can’t broad-brush people. That’s not right. That’s unfair. Let me tell you what I hear from the migrants and immigrants who have come through the system. They say to me all the time, “Eric, we don’t want your free food. We don’t want your clothing, we don’t want you taking care of us. All we want to do is work. We want to earn our right to be here in the city.” What is more anti-American that when someone comes to this country and they cannot work?
So that’s why we’re asking the President and we’re asking the White House, “Let’s give our migrants the authorization to work. Let’s manage this at the border. Let’s do an emergency declaration for our city and state so that we can get the resources we need.” And so when I look at the full immigration migration experience, if it’s my family migrating from Alabama, if it’s my Caribbean diaspora, my African diaspora, my Irish, my Italian, my Jewish, every immigrant that has ever come to this city and participated in an American dream wanted to have the ability to provide for themselves. We have little episodes at our humanitarian relief centers. We have little episode at our shelters. Every time I go there to visit, all they say to me is, ‘Mr. Mayor, can you get the national government to allow us to work?’ And we need to give them authorization to do so.
Byrd: This is Hear from the Mayor, and you’re hearing from him, Mayor Eric Adams. We’ll take a quick break and come right back with more of your telephone calls. 212-545-1075. 212-545-1075. Back in the moment.
107.5 WBLS. Our final moments and final word from our Mayor Eric Adams. Eric, welcome back.
Mayor Adams: Thank you. Thank you. And I just really want New Yorkers to understand the full magnitude of what we are facing. And Zach, can you just go over just the number of people that are coming in, how many humanitarian relief centers we’ve opened?
Commissioner Iscol: Yeah, it’s an incredible question. I think the operations behind the scene and what this administration has been able to achieve in the last year, again largely on its own, is sort of remarkable. As I said earlier, we’ve got close to 60,000 people in our care. Just last week alone, we had 2,900. Nearly 3,000 people entered the care of the city. And so what we’ve done is we keep opening up emergency shelters.
We’ve now opened up close to 200 emergency shelters. And to put that in perspective, on average it takes two years to open up a homeless shelter. We’ve opened up close to 200 in the last year alone. Many of these are what we call our HERRCs or Humanitarian Relief Centers, emergency relief centers. We’ve opened up 13 of those to care for folks and we can’t open up these sites fast enough.
And so we’ve now opened up sites and converted prisons in commercial conversions and old closed Catholic schools and parochial schools, old universities. Any place that we can sort of house people safely or provide them respite, we’re doing. The old police academy gym, you helped set up the cots there late at night when we ran out of space back in May 4th. And now one of the things that we’re doing is because our priority has been taking care of families with children and making sure no child ends up on the street, we’ve had to open up really large facilities where we can move single adults out of places where we can move families with children in. And that’s where we have some of these large tents that we’re putting up in places like Creedmoor and Randall’s Island,
Mayor Adams: And we’re doing all of this, brother Byrd and listeners, by keeping the city moving forward, AA bond rating. People say this is a great place to invest. Invested in foster care, doing our dyslexia screening for children in schools, having those with impact of law enforcement finding jobs, foster care children, recovering our job. Tourism is up, crime is going down. This is an exciting place. So we have not taken our eyes off the ball as we continue to move this city forward while we deal with this crisis. And it shows the resiliency of this amazing city. So thank you so much, WBLS. I want people to continue to hear directly from us. So you can listen to my Get Stuff Done-Cast or visit me at nyc.gov/hearfromeric.
Byrd: And once again, for those of you listening Hear from the Mayor is going to be happening the second week of every month right here at 107.5 WBLS. Again, the second week of every month, same time, 10:30 in the morning. Halftime as Nas would say. Brother mayor, giving thanks of course for the work that you and your great team are doing and certainly appreciate and look forward to seeing you back with us next month.
Mayor Adams: My man. Thank you. Take care.