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Transcript: Mayor Adams Appears on CBS' "Face the Nation"

May 21, 2023

Margaret Brennan: We go now to New York City and its Mayor Eric Adams, a Democrat. Mr. Mayor, good morning to you.

Mayor Eric Adams: Good morning to you as well.

Brennan: You said that the president and the White House have failed New York City and that you don't have access to federal dollars to deal with the migrant crisis, but the administration reportedly has pledged $30 million to deal with those arrivals. Why the discrepancy?

Mayor Adams: I don't think that's a discrepancy. We've spent over a billion dollars. We're projected to spend close to $4.3 billion, if not more. This estimate was based on a number of migrants coming to the city, and those numbers have clearly increased. We received, in several days last week alone, over 900 migrants on days … over two weeks ago, approximately 4,200 in one week. When you look at the price tag, $30 million comes nowhere near what this city is paying for a national problem.

Brennan: So you are getting federal help, it's just not sufficient to the needs you have?

Mayor Adams: Well, we've been extremely transparent about what the needs are when a city that just cycled out of the financial crisis of COVID, is now hit with an additional over a billion dollars in our budget and potentially over $4 billion in the out years. That is not the price tag that is attached to what is cause to handle this national problem.

Brennan: You have started to bus migrants upstate within New York, and that has kicked off some legal disputes, I understand, with some of those counties. You just talked about decompression. Have you asked the governor, who is a fellow Democrat to help you find housing for these migrants elsewhere in the state?

Mayor Adams: Yes. She has been a real partner as well as Senator Schumer, Congressman Jeffries in the New York delegation. They have been extremely helpful in trying to, number one, get the dollars coming out of Washington, DC but also the governor here. In coordinating our efforts, we believe the entire state should participate in a decompression strategy, and it's unfortunate that there have been some lawmakers in counties that are not carrying on their role of ensuring that this is a decompression strategy throughout the state. We have witnesses, some municipalities where they lied and stated that veterans were being forced out of hotels, which was untrue and found out to be fabricated. So these types of tactics are just anti-American and anti-New York City.

Brennan: On the question of decompression, would it be more helpful if it was the federal government directing where migrants are moved to throughout the United States instead of you as New York City's mayor trying to figure out where you can send them within your state?

Mayor Adams: Yes, it would. We have 108,000 cities, villages, towns. If everyone takes a small portion of that and if it's coordinated at the border to ensure that those who are coming here, to this country, in a lawful manner is actually moved throughout the entire country. It is not a burden on one city and the numbers need to be clear. We received over 70,000 migrant asylum seekers in our city. 42,000 are still in our care. If this is properly handled at the border level, this issue can be resolved while we finally get Congress, particularly the Republican Party, to deal with a comprehensive immigration policy.

Brennan: There has been a lot of national attention about that tragic event on the New York City subway. Jordan Neely, who was homeless and struggled with mental health issues, was forcibly restrained and then choked by a subway rider named Daniel Penny. He lost his life. Why do you think that the system you have in place to deal with homelessness and to deal with mental health failed Jordan Neely?

Mayor Adams: When you do an examination, just as I talked about public safety issues and how we had to get guns that were clearly saturated in our cities, so too in October and prior to that, I talked about how we must look at involuntary removal of those who cannot take care of their basic needs and are in danger to themselves. It breaks my heart how Jordan lost his life, who happens to have the same name as my son, and our focus should be on how he died, and we need to look at how he lived and ensure that the other Jordans out there receive the care they deserve.

I spend many days in the subway system talking to those who are in that condition, and if we don't get help from the state government to ensure that we can use involuntary removals of those who are in danger to themselves and can't take care of their basic needs, we may be facing a potential problem like this again. That's what we need to do. We need to make sure that we go after those other Jordan Neelys that are there looking for care.

Brennan: Mr. Mayor, thank you for your time this morning

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