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Transcript: Mayor Eric Adams Appears Live on WCBS 880

August 12, 2022

Paul Murnane: 7:16 at WCBS. We want to open the phone lines and welcome the mayor of the City of New York, Mayor Eric Adams. Thank you for your time this morning. Good morning.

Mayor Eric Adams: Good morning. Thank you. Good to speak with you this morning.

Murname:  Well, we appreciate your time. We wanted to begin by talking with you about the migrants that are being bussed in here on orders of the governor of Texas to New York City. You and other city officials have been meeting those buses, and now there's the talk about the strain that this will put on the shelter system. To the criticism though, that shelters are always going to be busy here in New York City, and that maybe New York City could have been better prepared for this influx coming there from the border, what's your response to that?

Mayor Adams: I don't think anyone could have been better prepared for this influx than what we have. We had a continuous display of humanitarian assistance as our asylum seekers arrived here, and I'm really proud of the response of all of our multi-agency interactions. We are witnessing 80 to a hundred migrant seekers coming to New York. We've made sure shelter was allocated for close to 5,000 individuals. And so, this city has done an amazing job, and I thank the people that are employed in the agencies that must carry this out.

Marla Diamond: Mayor Adams, we've seen reports about the city looking into housing 600 asylum seekers in one midtown shelter. Can you confirm this? And if so, wouldn't that violate state law, since most shelters are limited to 200 beds?

Mayor Adams: No, I'm not aware of that, and I will look into it. If that's happening, we will always follow the law. And if there are any missteps, we will always take corrective actions, because our goal is to make sure we are using proper humanitarian response to this crisis we're facing.

Murname: Mayor Adams, to the governor of Texas, I guess in Texas, they'd say these are fighting words. You talked about maybe bringing people down to Texas to protest what's going on down there and the shipment of these individuals, these migrants to New York, and to Washington D.C. I believe the term he used was "make my day." What was your response?

Mayor Adams: Well, nope — not to protest — to call on people, to knock on doors, and get him out of office. He is not a representation of what I believe a governor should be, or that any American should be. This is a country where the Statue of Liberty sits in the Harbor of New York. We've always welcomed immigrants, and we showed and displayed to the entire globe our humanitarian response to crises of others.

Diamond: And mayor, you can't discuss the migrant issue without discussing the issues that city shelters are having with a 1% occupancy rate and the criticism of your Homeless Services Commissioner Gary Jenkins. Under the Right to Shelter Law, New York is required to provide same-day housing for any adult who arrives by 10:00 with kids to a homeless shelter. Yet four South and Central American families had to sleep on the floor of a Bronx intake center in July. Your office has said that Jenkins didn't realize that that violated the law, but your commissioner has worked in social services for more than three decades. Are you surprised he didn't know about this seemingly fundamental right?

Mayor Adams: No. There are many laws that we must abide by, and when you look at the number that you just stated, no family should sleep on the floor. Let's be clear of that. But as I stated, 5,000 individuals have been processed by Gary Jenkins and his agencies. It's really commendable, and we're going to continue to do so. I'm proud of that agency. I'm proud of how they responded immediately as we dealt with other crises that the city was facing, and he immediately did not attempt to cover it up. He immediately reported it to the Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom, and immediately turned around, and we acknowledged that at the press conference a day or so later.

Murname: The spokeswoman, however, was fired after pushing back on what the commissioner was saying about crowded shelter conditions or withholding it from you, as has been reported. If this doesn't fall under whistleblower, though, protection for this spokesperson now fired, what reason were you given by your commissioner for firing the spokesperson then?

Mayor Adams: Well, our commissioners have a certain number of staffers that serve at the pleasure of the commissioners, and I respect Commissioner Jenkins' decision on who he wants to serve for him. And they were not fired because of their communication, and we should be clear on that. And I believe that whatever reason Commissioner Jenkins used and shared with me is a private personnel conversation between the two, and I'm not going to go into that.

Diamond: Mr. Mayor, the governor of Texas has made it clear he is not going to stop sending asylum seekers to New York. Are you expecting more buses over the weekend? And is there any way to perhaps provide shelter or support services elsewhere for some of these asylum seekers?

Mayor Adams: Well, I think it's important for us to be clear on what the governor has made clear. He has made clear that he's not going to respect the dignity of people. After traveling here for months, to place someone on a bus for 45 hours without proper food, medical care, and other assistance, to use them as political pawns, that is not who we are as a country. I believe this strikes at the face of what the American people stand for, and so, we are going to continue to do our job and follow the law on ensuring that those who come here to our city, a right to shelter city, that they receive the services they deserve. And it's more than shelter. We should keep that in mind. It's also medical care, education. Some of these children arriving here at school age. Food, there's a host of things that we have to do, and that's why we're calling on the federal government to assist us as we navigate this crisis. 

Murname: Mayor Eric Adams on the line this morning. Mr. Mayor, what's the forecast? How many migrants do you think that New York City will be expecting under this, we'll call it a program the Texas Governor has launched?

Mayor Adams: I don't call it a program. I call it a humanitarian crisis that he has created instead of sharing the responsibility that this country has always stood up for. We are seeing anywhere again between 50 to 100 a day. Yesterday, I believe we received 50. Many of the individuals who arrived, the migrants arrived, needed assistance in many ways. And so we're going to continue to step up and respond as the crisis continues to unfold.

Diamond: Okay. Mr. Mayor, Eric Adams. Thank you so much for joining us this morning.

Mayor Adams: Thank you. It's a pleasure speaking with you.


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