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Transcript: Mayor Adams Urges Biden Administration to Provide Expedited, Emergency Paths to Work Authorization for Asylum Seekers Ahead of Title 42 Lifting

April 19, 2023

Deputy Mayor Anne Williams-Isom, Health and Human Services: Good morning everyone. My name is Anne Williams-Isom and I'm the deputy mayor for health and human services. Before I hand it over to the mayor, I'd like to recognize some of the folks from the administration and some partners that are here.

We have Commissioner Manny Castro from MOIA, Jacques Jiha, our budget director, Camille Joseph Varlack, our chief of staff, Sheena Wright, our first deputy mayor, Zach Iscol, the commissioner of NYCEM, Dr. Ted Long from H + H, Molly Park, the acting commissioner of DSS, Rishi Sood from DOHMH, Assemblywoman Rajkumar, and Council Members Abreu and Bottcher.

[Phone rings.]

Mayor Eric Adams: Who's that, Jeff Mays' phone?


Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom: Today, we are here for a call to action once again. New Yorkers have been responding almost single-handedly to the largest national humanitarian crisis in recent memory for nearly a year now. It is not surprising that New Yorkers have stepped up. It is surprising that we have been asked to do this by ourselves. That is unacceptable.

Since last spring, New Yorkers have stepped up to provide shelter, medical care, educational support for children, social services, and more to people who are seeking asylum or are passing through to their final destination. As we see here, over 55,300 asylum seekers have had some level of interaction with our shelter system and have been offered a place to rest at night.

I know we say these numbers over and over again, but I want you to think about 55,000 people being added to our shelter system. Over 34,600 asylum seekers are currently in our care and being housed in one of our 103 emergency shelters or one of our eight Humanitarian Response and Relief Centers. More than 14,000 children that arrived here are in our public school today, and over 200 asylum seekers arrive in New York City each day, even though some people say "It's not a big deal. Isn't it over?"

Every day we are still getting asylum seekers into our system. This massive response effort reflects where we are in the city right now. This does not account for the impact of the upcoming changes we expect at the federal level, including the expiration of the Covid-19 public health emergency and the lifting of Title 42 on May 11th. It is why we are here today to call on the federal government to do more. I'll turn it over now to the mayor to give you more details.

Mayor Adams: Thank you. Thank you.

Agitator: Mayor Adams, why are you cutting schools? Why are you cutting [inaudible]? Why are you cutting [inaudible]?

Mayor Adams: Now, what is interesting is that… Let's wait until they're allowed to go outside as they fade into tomorrow.

It's interesting that we're here showing the real numbers that this impacts. And I said before, every service in the city is going to be impacted by the asylum seeker crisis. Every service. And even as we said that for almost a year now, people are still asking the question, why are we cutting?

It's called $4.2 billion. Every service in this city is going to be impacted by the asylum seeker crisis. And I really want to even start off thanking Public Advocate Jumaane Williams today. He's not on the steps of City Hall asking what are we doing? He's in Washington, D.C. meeting with our national leaders asking what are they doing? And so I wish we could have told those who were standing here today asking us questions, they need to be in Washington, D.C. asking the national government what are they doing?

I believe what Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom stated that I don't think it has really resonated with all of us in this city. This is one of the largest humanitarian crises that this city has ever experienced. It will impact every service in the city. Why isn't every elected official in Washington, D.C. asking the national government why are you doing this to New York?

The national government has turned its back on New York City and we have to ask that question. They just started asking that question. Everyone should be joining Jumaane Williams. Instead of standing on the steps of City Hall, we should be standing on the steps of the White House and asking the national government what are you doing to the City of New York?

This is impacting our schools, public safety, our ability to take care of those who were already in shelters. This is impacting the entire city. And the numbers don't lie. People have asked over and over again, where are the numbers that you're talking about are $4.2 billion. The budget director has been stating it over and over again. That is what these charts are for. So you can see the facts. The money comes from some place.

Think about this for a moment. Over 50,000 people come to the City of New York seeking assistance and we are told you are not allowed them to work, you have to food, give them clothing if they need, give them the basic services that they need. You are supposed to make sure they have three meals a day, make sure that all the children are educated. And while you're doing all of that, New York City, we are not going to give you anything in return.

A national problem dropped on the lap of a city. They pass through other municipalities, but they end up here in New York. Close to 200 a day. Do the math. 200 a day times seven days equal 1,400. That's what we are faced with. And so when you have people asking, "Why are we taking the appropriate actions to stabilize this city?" This is why we're doing it.

And while we were going through that, while we were going through all of the crises, the bond raters in the city still raised our bond to a AA because of the fiscal responsibility that we are showing. While we are doing the challenge of this, we're still decreasing crime, we're still making our subway system safe, we're still taking appropriate actions. We're still responding to buildings collapse. We're still functioning this city.

What is really happening to this administration? We're victims of our success because you're still able to function in this city in spite of this humanitarian crisis dropped in our lap. People believe, "Well, it can't be that bad of a crisis, you're still making sure that the city is functioning." Because we're doing our job and it's going to take every agency to think differently about the provider of goods and services.

So we are clear here today telling the White House we have been extremely patient. We've allowed the coordination of all of our agencies to come together to deal with this response. And I have to take my hat off to Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom and her team from HRA and the other agencies that are associated with this, dealing with this humongous disaster that we are impacted and still every day figuring out how do we make it happen.

And as I visit the HERRCs — which I don't see a lot of people going in to visit — when I go there and visit them, there's only one thing they ask for. They don't want our free shelter. They don't want free food. They don't want free clothing. They're saying, "Can we work? Can we work?" And we can't point to the failure of the Republicans handing down real immigration reform because there's things we can do. This is in the lap of the president of the United States.

The president of the United States can give us the ability to allow people to work. This is in the lap of the executive branch of the United States of America, and that's what we are calling for. They're desperate to work. We have shouldered this cost far too long. This is decimating the foundation of our city. It will undermine our city if we don't get a quick response. Title 42 is getting ready to be released. What do you think is going to happen? Thousands of people are waiting to come across the border and potentially end up in New York City.

So 52,000 can jump to 100,000 if we don't get this under control. It does this great city a disservice. And we're calling the Biden and Harris administration and the United States Department of Homeland Security, they must use all tools that are available to resolve this issue. We want them to ensure asylum seekers can start to work immediately. Fortunately, they can act with a stroke of a pen. That's all it takes. A stroke of a pen.

The federal government must redesignate and extend Temporary Protected Status, TPS, for Venezuela, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Sudan, South Sudan, Cameroon, and any of the African countries that are part here that are also not on many people radars but they're being taken care of many imams up in the Bronx. It must also expand and extend access to humanitarian parole for asylum seekers already in the United States and process at the border, as well as increase the number of United States citizens in immigration offices. We must bolster those numbers.

We have a heavy, heavy influx, but we don't have the population and the personnel to process them. We want to ensure that their application can be processed quickly and the current backlog is drastically reduced. We have always said that the asylum seeker crisis is a national crisis that requires a coordination response from the federal government. It is why we need the federal government to take these necessary steps that would allow asylum seekers to support themselves and integrate into our communities.

And we hear those who are saying, "Why aren't they working?" Well, this is why they're not working. They're not given the authorization to do so, and this is wrong. The agriculture, food service, transportation, manufacturing fields, they're all looking for employees. We have an absence of employees in these fields. We have a willingness of a population that wants to fill these jobs. We need to bring that together. That is how we are going to solve this problem.

And today, our new New Yorkers are ready to roll up their sleeves and get to work. But bureaucratic barriers prevent them from pitching in and being a part of the recovery of this city, and if not this entire country. The question still lingers: what are they waiting for? What do they want to happen in this city before they finally resolve that this issue is undermining New York City, if not the entire state?

We know that Republican leaderships have failed to put in place comprehensive immigration reforms. We got that. But we cannot allow one failure to be duplicated or matched in another failure. The actions we are requesting can be taken by the executive branch of the federal government immediately and unilaterally without legislation being passed.

We don't need legislation to do this. We just need the will to do this. It only takes the action by the White House. New York City and much of our country was built by immigrants. We know that. All of us came from a lineage of immigrants. We know the responsibilities that come with it. Working, helping, keeping this city strong and newcomers integrating into communities and allow the communities to grow. And the labor of immigrants have allowed this country to be what it is. And we want to continue to allow that possibility.

Our futures connected to their future. We're in this the same. I stand here with the commission of Mayor Office of Immigrant Affairs, a dreamer who came to this country and now is the commissioner in charge of those who come here to give them the services they need. We know the story, we know the narrative, but this is the destructive way we are carrying out what we call ourselves as Americans, so that our newest New Yorkers can do what they came here to do, work lawfully and build, stable lives of themselves. We need Washington to respond.

I'd like to finish by thanks to congressional delegation, including Senator Schumer and Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries for what they're doing in their attempts to bring in the necessary resources we deserve. We need to expeditiously get the money that's coming through FEMA to get to New York City. And again, I want to thank Public Advocate Jumaane Williams who's in Washington, D.C. right now, including in this call to allow asylum seekers and migrants to be able to participate in this experience.

And I'm calling on all my electeds. The services in this city will be impacted by the $4.3 billion now that we are looking at. And Jacques is here to show us and show all of you exactly how these dollars and these numbers are impacting everyday New Yorkers. This is not a mystery. This is not a secret. This is not a hidden dollar amount. This is as transparent as we can be. We are not making this number up. When over 50,000 people come to your city and they're unable to do what they want to do and provide for themselves, the money is going to come from somewhere, and we must be clear on that. Washington, it's time to respond. Enough is enough. New Yorkers deserve better from our national government. They deserve better.

Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom: Thank you, Mayor Adams. Director Jiha, do you want to come and walk us through the numbers please?

Jacques Jiha, Director, Mayor's Office of Management and Budget: Yes. It's very simple. I mean, no municipality can absorb this kind of cost without cracking. As you could see, let me walk there so I can show you. This here, [inaudible.] We're right here. This is where we are right now. [Inaudible.] It's very simple. If you trend this going forward, this is what you have here. Okay? You could see how the [inaudible] track the census. This is basically actual cost and actual census. So if you were to trend going forward, this is what we're expecting to make, okay? We're expecting to have about 35,000 people under our care by the end of next year. So what you have is you could see this trend, the line and the expenses track very much the trend line.

The calculation is simple. It's like you have four families booking two nights in a hotel room. So you have like eight nights and you multiply those eight nights by the price of the room. Okay? This is what we have. We have currently an average 9,751 households right now on average throughout the year under our care. You multiply by the number of nights, which is 265 nights, multiply by the $380 [inaudible.] That'd give you the $1.4 billion for this year. Currently, we have spent $817 million and the actual spending is on track to meet this target of $1.4 billion by the end of this fiscal year.

Same thing for next year. On average, on a daily basis, we are expecting to have 24,882 households at $220 per year. So same calculation, 24,882, multiplied by 65 days, multiplied by 220 days. That gives you $2.9 billion. Again I will say, it is a huge burden on the city. It is a huge burden. You can imagine a year ago we didn't have this in our budget, and all of a sudden we have to come up with $4.3 billion. We are expecting to get $1 billion from the state. The federal government have allocated $800 million for the entire country. We don't know yet how much we're going to get from it, but the city has to, at a minimum, come up with $3 billion.

This is a huge burden and we're not raising taxes. So the only way we could manage is to find efficiencies in other places in city government to make sure, because the mayor said something earlier. Because we don't see people sleeping in the street, we don't see homeless encampments in the street, everybody thinks everything is fine. This is a great job done by Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom, but it costs tons of money to do this. This is not cheap. All right? And folks have to understand, the money has to come from somewhere. That's all I have to say.

Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom: Thank you, Director Jiha. Commissioner Castro?

Commissioner Manuel Castro, Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs: Thank you so much, Deputy Mayor Anne Williams-Isom. My name is Manuel Castro. I'm the commissioner for the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs. Today, we want to be clear, no other city has been as generous as New York City in doing what's right during this ongoing humanitarian crisis. But our willingness to do what's right, as the director just mentioned, our willingness to not have a asylum seekers sleep on the streets like in other cities, or go without emergency healthcare or education, that cannot be our national strategy to a national crisis, which is why we are here to say we cannot do this alone and that the federal administration must do and has to do their part. They need to use every tool at their disposal.

One such tool for the federal administration at their disposal is the ability to re-designate TPS for Venezuelans and other nationalities of asylum seekers already living in our cities, and to expedite work permits upon submission of these applications. TPS is available for exactly these times. Not giving the ability to someone to work legally and be able to provide for themselves and for their families is cruel and inhumane. You put asylum seekers in a desperate situation. If they work informally, they risk being deported and are forced to return back to the dangerous places they are fleeing from. And for some this means being separated from their families. When we speak with asylum seekers, it is clear that all of this weighs heavy on them. For those who have endured the journey to get here, they now feel a sense of hopelessness. Many feel that they're failing their families, and that their situation is turning from the search for the American dream to a nightmare.

Because they are not able to work, they feel shame that they cannot provide for their families and that they cannot contribute to the city and to the United States. And they feel that they are failing as parents and providers for their families here and back home. But there is hope. Like we have said today, the federal government can and must do more. We have TPS at our disposal. For many Salvadorians and Hondurans, for instance, who have had access to TPS, they have been able to obtain work permits and many have developed thriving communities here in New York City and across the region. They have become small business owners, civil servants, and healthcare workers, and have supported one another despite the ongoing crises in their home countries. For Venezuelans who arrived years ago and were able to access TPS, they have been able to access work permits and some are already working even at the nonprofits that are now serving newly arrived asylum seekers.

Their situation is strikingly different from those that are recently arrived because those who have recently arrived do not have access to TPS. We are also seeing the impact of the re-designation of TPS for Haitian migrants. We met, for instance, recently, a dentist who had arrived after the previous cutoff date and felt depressed and lost until TPS for Haitians was re-designated, and he was able to enroll in TPS and attain a work permit and is now able to contribute back to the city.

For me, it has been incredible to meet doctors, teachers, engineers who arrived as asylum seekers in the past year with all willingness to return back what they feel was a dignified welcome to New York City, and people who told us that they are willing to contribute their knowledge and skill back to our society. But unfortunately, and sadly, they have been told that they cannot, and have been forced to live in a constant sense of hopelessness and fear. Just like DACA, TPS is not a long-term solution for migrants, but it's something the federal government and the federal administration can provide with a stroke of a pen. And so we are here today to implore that the federal government use every tool at their disposal and to help us through this humanitarian crisis. Now, just to summarize in Spanish, [speaks in Spanish]. Thank you.

Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom: I hope you all are feeling the seriousness of this press conference this morning. I'm usually the one that has hope, and today I'm feeling very frustrated. As I was waiting to come onto the press conference, a man came over to me, a photographer, very excited because today was his 37th anniversary of him being in this country. He said that he came here from — I believe it was Brazil — with his son in tow, and then he didn't know where he was going to stay. He met somebody at Kennedy Airport and was able to find his way.

The joy in his eyes was when he said to me that he was able to get a job. He was able to work to provide for his family. He took out his phone and he showed me his son, who's about 27-years-old right now. All of us know what that means to be able to work. The commissioner said that it's inhumane to bring people here, to have suffering, to go through that and not be able to work. Today, we're just asking for people to be as humane as New Yorkers have been. Now, I'm going to hand it over to the mayor.

Mayor Adams: Thank you. Thank you for that, deputy mayor. And Commissioner Castro said something that's significant. People don't realize the number of professionals who are part of the asylum seeking migrants. I met reporters, I met teachers, I met physicians, of the number of professionals that are part of the asylum seekers and migrants. I know many people look down and think they're just coming here to just eat off our country. That is just not true. When you spend time and you speak and you hear the stories of the migrant and asylum seekers, they just want what we want. They too love America. They know this country is a great country. Right now, we are not showing our greatness. And finally, the numbers that Jacques showed, we have been reading over and over the reports on how we balance these budgets. Did you notice that everyone that puts forward a proposal on balancing the budget, none of them talk about asylum seekers?

All the proposals that people are putting in place was coming out of the City Council and other places of how to balance the budget is void of asylum seekers. No one is saying the money that it's going to take for the asylum seekers. We got to factor that in. The money god just doesn't appear and drop it in front of us. This is a reality. That's why you need a mayor that understands the complexity of running a city. Running your mouth is not running a city. Balancing this budget and ensuring the services and what it takes to continue the city moving forward, 99 percent of our jobs recovered, decreases in crime, decreases in shooting, not laying off a person, not raising taxes, all the things that we are doing to keep this city moving forward in the midst of a crisis. In the midst of a crisis. Now it's time for the national government to step up. So why don't we answer a few questions.

Question: Two questions for you. First of all, how many asylum seekers have gotten work permits since this entire process began?

Mayor Adams: We have that information? I'm not aware of the numbers of how many received.

Question: Just a quick follow-up. Mayor, for you, what have you been told by the White House or DHS about why they have not provided the federal relief you're seeking?

Mayor Adams: Still don't know why. We've constantly heard, "We understand your pain, we understand your pain, we understand your pain." What does that mean?

Question: That's what they say to you?

Mayor Adams: Their basic response is, "We understand what you're going through. We understand the difficulties." I don't need to understand. I need help. We need help from the federal government, and I really need New Yorkers to understand. Title 42 is about to lift. That's a temporary Band-Aid to a problem. Title 42 lifts, thousands of people are waiting at the border, they're potentially going to end up in New York. So this is really potentially the beginning of our problem at this level. This is unimaginable how this can destabilize our city. All the work that we've done to recover our city, this could destabilize New York City.

Question: Mr. Mayor, you said last month that Vice President Harris has too much in her lap to handle this because this is in her portfolio. Do you think President Biden should remove her from the migrant crisis, take that out of her lap, because she's not doing a good enough job for New York City and other cities across the country?

Mayor Adams: That was a pretty long question, Bernadette. Here's what I'm saying, and I've said this over and over again. To have the VP be the coordinator of this entire operation with all that the vice president is doing, I don't think that should be the case. She should oversee an individual who is the coordinator, decompression strategy, expediting people through the process, making sure we have the right manpower in all the agencies, making sure New York City is getting the help that it deserves. She should oversee that. That's in her portfolio, but there needs to be an individual that we can point to and communicate directly with that's on the ground and they have their finger on the post. That's what I believe needs to be done.

Question: Hi, yes, Mr. Mayor. You mentioned frustration with White House over any financial aid. I'm wondering why this ask is today? Do you feel like this is an easier ask of the White House that they'll actually be able to fulfill for you?

Mayor Adams: No, this has not been the first time we've asked this. We've asked this over and over again. And when you look at these numbers, that's why Jacques brought out these charts and graphs because we have constantly heard everyone say that these make believe numbers. These are real numbers. This is what it costs to do this. And so what we are saying to the White House, the Biden-Harris team, if you allow people to work, it would take some of the pressure off of the City of New York and other cities.

Chicago is experiencing this as well. Houston is experiencing this — Brownsville, Texas, El Paso. Cities should not have to deal with national problems. And so we are hoping they do what's in their span of control. The president can do this. He can sign this into action.

Question: Mr. Mayor, if migrants aren't working legally, what are they doing?

Mayor Adams: Well, we've created almost a black market for workers. Some of them are — let's be honest with ourselves — some of them are doing jobs off the book that they're been placed in probably terrible working environments. They're unable to pay into the tax base that they would like to do. They're probably doing working conditions that are unfair that we fought for to make sure we have fair working conditions. They may be working for less than minimum wage. So some of them are. I mean, you put a man or woman in a desperate situation, they're going to do the best that they can to survive. And so a substantial number of them, I believe, are being exploited, are being mistreated because they're trying to provide for their families and they are doing the best they can like you and I would do. I would do the same, the best I can to provide for my family.

Question: Mr. Mayor, does there come a point where you just stop the buses from coming here and turn them away and I don't know, send them to Washington as they go to the White House?

Mayor Adams: No, it's such a balance and we've been reminded every day by the team that our moral and legal responsibility is not to duplicate what we saw other administrations and municipalities do. We want to treat people with the dignity and respect that they deserve. And if people spend time with these migrants and asylum seekers, you're going to see their children are no different than your children. You're going to see their hopes and dreams are no different than our hopes and dreams. I think the story that the deputy mayor gave of the cameraman is the same. It's the same. Every time I go through this, I reflect on the first time I heard Commissioner Castro's story coming to Mexico with his mom and dad just believing in his country. And now he's assembled to every migrant seeker.

When he goes to the HERRCs and speaks to them and he hears about his story, they just renew their belief in this country and what we represent. And so we are not going to do what others have done. We have been the most humane, responsible city in this country. We don't just talk about the American dream. We allow people to live it out.

Question: Mr. Mayor, I know you said you want to treat the migrants with dignity, but I'm looking at that $380 per day cost per household. I'm wondering if the city feels that there are ways in which they can bring that cost down without sacrificing anything in terms of dignity or services the migrants need.

Mayor Adams: And we have. I'm amazed at how much Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom's team has. They have shaved off costs, peeling back costs over and over again because just as I'm telling every day New Yorkers, we have to find an easier and less expensive way to do so. We have been doing the same. When you break down the cost, we're dealing with emergency hotels where we have to get people housed right away. That's a different scenario of having two years to negotiate. We're dealing with emergency situation and then while we're dealing with emergency hotels and placement, we have those who are saying in other areas of government "You need to be more humane, but just don't do it in my district. Just don't do it on my block." You can't have it both ways. You must be part of saying "Place the migrants here if you are telling us that we need to be doing this." And so we have brought down the course substantially and we're continuing to find… That's why we moved to congregate shelters.

We said we are not going to keep single adult men in hotels. It was too expensive. We moved to congregate settings for the single adult men to be in congregate settings. And you remember what happened when we did that. And so we are putting children and families in the hotels. Single adult males, we are placing in congregate settings because we want to continue to shave down the course.

Question: Mr. Mayor, at some point over the last year, we heard you proposing that only in New York could give a hand to New York and maybe shelter migrants anywhere else than in New York, even having some support from the local administration on that matter. Has anybody heard that call or they're pretending that they're not listening?

Mayor Adams: Let me tell you what we hear. We speak with our colleagues throughout the state, they say, listen, this is wrong what they're doing to New York City and we are willing to help you, but we can't have it come into our counties and they can't work. Who's going to pick up the tab? They say give them the right to work. We need employees upstate. We are willing to help. That's why we are here today. We're saying to Washington, D.C. that we could do a decompression strategy is that when I send a family there that they are able to work. If not, we are just displacing the problem to another municipality.

Question: Mr. Mayor, it seems like you've been reluctant to call out the president directly up until now. I guess, what changed? What's spurring this particular call on it?

Mayor Adams: No, I've said this, those who have been here in this rotunda, I've said it over and over again. The national government needs to take the responsibility of this action. I've never been shy about saying that no city should go through this. That quote has been stated over and over again. El Paso, Brownsville, Texas, Houston, Chicago, New York. No city should have taken this burden. And I've said that over and over again. This is no different than what I have been saying, but I know what's on the horizon. When I'm briefed by the team, they say, Eric, Title 42, being lifted without a real plan, no real plan. We have not heard a real plan from the White House. We are getting ready to lift Title 42. A plan can't be let's hope. That's not a plan. We need a plan. America deserves a plan and the White House needs to give us that plan.

Question: Good morning, Mr. Mayor. So I mean, you've talked about this on many occasions asking the feds for help, talking about President Biden giving you help. And it sounds like based on what you're saying today, they have put you off for months and months and months. How do you interpret that? I mean, does it basically amount to the president sticking his eye like New Yorkers, sticking his finger in the eye of New Yorkers?

Mayor Adams: Well, it's a combination. There's a multi-pronged issue here. The president and the White House have failed New York City on this issue. I read some of the editorial pages and some of your stories. This can't be costing that much money. So that adds to the flavor that Washington is feeling. Oh, it can't be that bad. Every time I read the editorials, they say that it's no real money. Then they hear from my City Council, "Oh, the budget, we got more money in the budget. We found $1 billion dollars. What are they talking about?" So when you add what's being reported in the news, when you add what's coming out of the City Council, when you add the fact that people are not sleeping on our streets because we're doing a good job, when you add the White House believing that, no, what, we could just ignore this. That is what's adding to this.

Now, if the City Council was not falsely reporting that we've found over $1 billion because they factored in the migrant crisis, then we won't have to be constantly fighting with the White House to say, no, this is a crisis. Everyone needs to be on the same message based on the facts, not based on a political opinion. This is not a talking point or sound bite. This is the facts. And when they all get on that page, then they won't be coming to rallies and standing on the steps of City Hall, say, why are you doing this? Why are you doing that? Get on the same page. New York City is in a crisis.

Question: The state budget hasn't passed yet. You had said that the $1 billion or so that the governor was offering in her exec wasn't enough. Wondering if you have an update on negotiations going on up there and are you asking for more from the state as well?

Mayor Adams: Yes. Well, Jacques has been communicating with the governor's office. Our entire team has been up there. Just about everyone who's behind me, we have been up there. We're looking at the different dollars in this state budget that may be attached to what we're doing here. Because remember, we have to balance our budget for two years. And right now we don't know exactly what's going to come out of Albany because of the extenders. And so Jacques has to figure out how do I balance the budget without the uncertainty. Normally, the budget is balanced. You know what you're going to produce. So we are still in negotiation to get it clear to our delegation in Albany that we need the help. And we've had great conversations with the leaders of both chambers and the governor's office to understand the urgency of the moment.

In a breakdown of the $1 billion plus is a third, a third, a third. We need to be real about that third. We're not getting a third out of Washington. Let's be clear on that. That third becomes two-thirds for New York City. We must make sure that everyone understands the urgency of this moment.

Question: Good morning, Ms. Mayor. Just lastly, if this is such an intense financial burden on the city, at what point would your administration [inaudible] to raising local taxes?

Mayor Adams: Jacques and I have communicated this over and over again, the two issues that is really concerning for us: number one, we don't want to be in a position to have to lay off New Yorkers because that only aggravates the problem. And we also know that New Yorkers are going through very difficult times, so we don't want to raise taxes. We don't want that on the table. We have done something twice already-- introduced PEGs, Programs to Eliminate the Gaps. We did it twice. Our commissioners have stood up. They know how difficult the time it is. We brought them all together and said this is a tough time. We're doing it again. So we are saying to New Yorkers we're going to do what we have to do first. Before we go to New Yorkers with another step, it is my responsibility to look into my own house and say how do I find the efficiencies before I go to New Yorkers? I've done that. I've done that twice.

And what's interesting, I didn't say I was not going to do that when I was running for office. Those of you who know when I was running for office, I said, "We're going to use PEGs to make sure that we find efficiency." And we'll continually find efficiency. And I just think my commissioners, this is a hard time for them. They have to deliver services. But we do know how hard it is. And let me say this. I've stood at this podium and announced initiatives that we were doing. I may have to come to back to this podium and tell you some of those initiatives we can't do. We can't do them. There's a lot of initiatives we are doing to make this city operate better. But we may have to come right back to the same podium and say that announcement we made on this topic, we no longer could do. That announcement we're doing on this topic, we no longer could do. That's where we are right now. I can't get it clearer to those who are covering this, those who are advocating for this or those who are involved in this.

As it currently stands, our national government has abandoned this city. And the actions or inaction can undermine our entire city. Everything we fought for is in jeopardy if we don't get this right. We do some off-topic questions. Thank you. Thanks y'all.

Question: Can you give us a budget update at some moment?

Mayor Adams: Yeah, there's a negotiation.

Question: [Inaudible] have someone who's in the room.

Mayor Adams: And she's been fighting hard for us. Assemblywoman Rajkumar is one of the best folks we have.

Question: Can we have an update on the parking garage collapse? And also, will there be inspections of similar aged buildings, similar aged parking garages?

Mayor Adams: Okay. First, the City Council passed the law that stated that the obligation to do these inspections through an engineer must be carried out by the owners of the property. It is the law. They got to abide by that law. And there's an investigation into exactly what happened here and making sure there's something we could put in place to prevent something like this from happening. We will. So there's a very thorough investigation that's going to be a combination of DOB and other entities. Any updates we have, Zach?

Commissioner Zach Iscol, New York City Emergency Management: Yes, sir. Thank you, sir. So this is an incredibly complex operation. Generally, there's a lot of focus on the initial response. Fire Department did a remarkable job last night along with the NYPD and a host of other agencies in the initial response, getting people out of the building. Right now, we're transitioning to how we safely take down that building and it's incredibly complex.

There's over 50 cars on the roof. The building is not structurally sound. You think about hazardous materials that are in the garage. Gas tanks, fluids, further complicated by the fact that there are possibly some electric vehicles in that garage. So there's a remarkable operation that is starting now. It started last night involving DOB, HPD, NYCEM, NYPD, FDNY, MTA, a host of other agencies that are working together to safely demolish that building, remove the vehicles, continue to do searches as we do those ongoing operations.

Mayor Adams: Before Jeff. Now, you remember last week that I was here, Juliette, and I had that robotic dog? Remember that? That robotic dog and everyone talking about Snoopy and why you got a robotic dog? Because it saved lives. If we didn't have that robotic dog, we would have placed those firefighters in jeopardy. That's how we found the person who was still there. And remember the other technology I said wanted to use, drones? The drones were flying around the building to see if there are any other persons inside there because we did not want to send people inside there.

We couldn't even send the cadaver dog in there because that cadaver dog would've gone in there and could potentially have had a collapse and harmed someone. Technology saved lives. Technology saved lives. And unless you have been on the front line of dealing with those saving lives, you don't really respect. I know what it is to go into a building with an armed suspect, a person who has barricaded themselves, a building that's a potential to collapse. Those firefighters and police officers and first responders, they're husbands, there's wives, they're children. I care about them.

So if I can use a robotic dog to climb through the rubble, even when it fell, it got back up. So like when we fall, we got back up, Snoopy got back up and was able to accomplish the task. Just a week ago, just one week ago, I was being criticized by all the folks in the bleachers saying well, why are you getting that dog? Now, you see why I got the dog, to save the lives of our firefighters, police officers, EMT, and other individuals.

Question: Mayor, the CCRB just found that Chief Maddrey abused his authority by interfering in the arrest of one of his former colleagues who was accused of menacing a group of teenagers with a gun. I'm wondering what is your response to that? Do you plan to take any action or is the police commissioner planning to take any action against Chief Maddrey?

Mayor Adams: Listen, there's a process. CCRB, they carry out investigations. It goes to the Police Department. They do their investigation. The police commissioner will treat any allegation the same way. I say that to say we are talking about Chief Maddrey. You walk around this city, you go to every command he has ever been in, you go to everyday people, you look at what he does off duty round Christmas time and with children, you look at the volunteering, you look at the children unboxing. You look at what this person has done and what he has committed himself to the City of New York.

I'm just so proud to have him as the chief of the department. If the police commissioner makes a determination on how she wants to handle that, that's up to her. I'm just a big believer that this is a person who has dedicated his life to his city and I'm proud to have him as the chief of department. I don't think he would do something that's inappropriate, but it's up to the commissioner to do her overview. I am happy that Chief Maddrey is my chief of the department.

Question: Mr. Mayor, I'd like to talk to you about the garage collapse, and I have two questions. The first is this. Obviously, there are other garages in the city that may be older buildings or whatever. It occurs to me that there are certain weight restrictions given the cars. Cars are getting heavier, more people are getting SUVs as opposed to sedans, and if you go electric, batteries in one of these electric cars weigh 5,000 pounds. The weight is heavier. Do you need to evaluate the number of cars by weight that can go into these structures to make sure that they're safe, because they're not being overpowered by cars that are heavier?

Mayor Adams: Yeah, and I think that all of that, Marcia, as you raise. We are living in a new environment and we have to constantly analyze and upgrade everything from weight capacity to how many cars can be there. And that is all part of this investigation. We look at every circumstance and say let's learn from it. So that's what Department of Buildings and others, our structural engineers, they're going to have to look at this and say, what do we learn from this? If there needs to be immediate actions with existing garages, then we have to take that immediate action. The investigation is early. We're still in the process of recovery because there is still a person who's there that we have to remove from that location. So right now we are in the process of doing an examination.

Question: So your investigation is not going to just center on this garage, but also other garages. As we ask that question, I'm wondering if it's exacerbated by the fact that there's a 23 percent vacancy rate in the number of inspectors in the Department of Buildings and if that has also hampered the ability to study structures in New York City like this parking garage.

Mayor Adams: Well, the number of vacancies is not 23 percent. It's actually lower than that. And the inspection unit is even lower. In the inspection unit, the number of…

Question: You have openings.

Mayor Adams: I'm sorry?

Question: Openings.

Mayor Adams: Openings?

Question: You have jobs that are unfilled in the Department of Buildings.

Mayor Adams: Well, we got jobs that are being filled throughout the country. Hold up, let me get to this point. Let me finish, then you can respond. The person who's supposed to do the inspection based on a City Council law, the owner of the building must hire an outside engineer to do that inspection. So if we were at 100 percent capacity, that still does not take away the legal responsibility of the owner to do the inspection. The decrease in vacancies is actually substantially low in that unit that's responsible for building inspections. I just want to be clear on that. It's not 23 percent.

Question: I just…

Mayor Adams: Hold on. Let Marcia…

Question: Are you really saying that there's a possibility that the owners of these garages are not complying with the city law and are not hiring these outside engineers to do the inspections?

Mayor Adams: There's a time limit when he must do that inspection and that is part of the investigation. Did he miss the time limit? The investigation is going to determine that. So there's a thorough investigation that is going to happen with this building and we're going to learn from it. If we have to change something throughout the state, we change it. But there's a time limit on doing that inspection.

So there's a lot we have to learn here. This is really new. We still have a victim that's there. So this is extremely fresh. Our goal is to get the victim out, make sure we shore up that building, make sure we do everything that's possible to make sure it's safe for firefighters and other Building Department first responders. One of the easy ways that we are going to be able to do an analysis of how safe it is to use our robotic dog.

Question: Mr. Mayor, good morning. Back to the question of the investigation of Chief Maddrey. You've been very victim-centric in your discussion of crime about the victims. These three kids in Brownsville, they say that they are victims and they were menaced by an off duty police officer with the gun. They say they don't feel supported by the city. So does your unconditional support of the chief based on some of the stuff he's done, people can be many things at once. Do you feel that it contributes to these kids feeling that the city doesn't believe them, that they don't feel the support?

Mayor Adams: Well first of all, it's not unconditional support. I stated that there's an investigation that's turned over now to the police commissioner. She'll make the determination on what action needs to take place. So folks can be clear on where I stand on people who are victims of crimes. I think we spend too many times dealing with folks who commit criminal behavior against innocent people. I've said that over and over again. We focus so much on a criminal who commit criminal actions against innocent people than the victims of crime.

Chief Maddrey is not being accused of a criminal action. Let's be clear of that. He's not being accused of robbery, burglary, homicide. He's being accused of doing something incorrect in his line of work. Now there's a process and that process is continuing, and in no way am I interfering with the process. I'm allowing the police commissioner to do her role of the process and she will analyze and make a determination. I'm not going to take away from the fact that we have a man of over 30 years, he has put his life on the line for the city. I'm not taking that away. I don't want a 30 year record all of a sudden to be tarnished, because there was an investigation on him. That's what I am standing next to.

Question: Yeah. Mr. Mayor, getting back to the garage issue.

Mayor Adams: Yes.

Question: There are violations dating back 20 years, active violations. Why aren't they addressed or addressed in a timely way? As part of your investigation, do you see in the future, repercussions for something like that?

Mayor Adams: Yeah. Yesterday I had a conversation with the acting commissioner and I shared with him we need a complete analysis of all open violations, all the problems, particularly if there's a safety one. You could have a violation that's not a safety violation. You have a violation that rubbish is placed in a terrible area. Violations that are safety violations, it is extremely concerning to me and they should be a real checkup on that. That is what is part of this entire investigation.

Question: Going back to the…

Mayor Adams: Did we entertain some questions from Bernadette already?


Mayor Adams: Okay.

Question: It's going to be on topic. Over a month ago, you announced the creation of a new Office of Migrant Services. When are you going to announce the person who's going to be heading that, and where's the new centralized location?

Mayor Adams: There's a lot of conversation on where it should be centralized and let's be clear, we announce the office, because they're going to coordinate everything, but it doesn't mean people are not still doing the work. We're still doing the work every day. So there are people who are already there. This is not a new funding stream, this is not a new manpower. We're just coordinating everything that we're doing.

Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom wants the best person for the job, but we're still coordinating the efforts. The proof on the ability to execute what we're doing every day is the fact I think a lot of people don't realize what's happening in other municipalities. People are not sleeping in airports, they're not sleeping on the street, they're not going without education. Our coordination has been something that other cities are looking at. So we will do a formal announcement once we go through the vetting process and have the right person to do the job.

Question: Prefer the location be?

Mayor Adams: Doesn't matter. Doesn't matter to me. Wherever is best for us.

Question: Hi, Mr. Mayor.

Mayor Adams: How are you?

Question: Final question for you. You recently announced budget cuts for most city agencies. That deadline was last Friday. Have city agencies given you their proposals for how they're going to cut their budgets and were you satisfied with some of their [inaudible]?

Mayor Adams: No, we did efficiencies. I know cuts sounds, right? We did efficiencies. We told the agencies to go in, find efficiencies. I was just really impressed going into the third round of finding efficiencies. We did it twice. These agencies, the commissioners, they understand the place that we're in and they stood up. And I looked at an analysis, a preliminary analysis, over this weekend and on Monday.

They found places that we can be more efficient and stuff that we could place on hold. Some stuff we're saying, okay, we cannot do it right now because of where we are right now. This is a basic rule of managing a crisis. All of us have gone through this at one time in their lives, unless you are affluent like Jeff Mays. The rest of us, we struggled. There were times when we didn't have enough money that came in to meet what we're faced with.

This is math of here's how much money the city brings in. Here's the cost of running this city. Now we have to adjust that cost to how much we bring in. There's only certain ways we can bring in money, taxes and fees, fines, other incentives. Those are the only ways. When that dollar amount reaches a certain level and you have more than what you have in costs, you have to adjust and that's what we're doing.

Because we're doing it successfully, the people who judge our city's ability to manage money, increase our bond rating, and some papers didn't even cover that. You know that? Some papers did not even cover that our city bond rating was increased. They covered that, did Eric eat a piece of fish? They didn't cover that our bond rating increased in the city, because of how we're managing this city. Thanks a lot.

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