Number of migrant buses arriving in New York drops following Biden’s new border policy

Far fewer migrant buses arrive from border states, Mayor Eric Adams said Friday, following a new federal policy aimed at reducing the influx of migrants entering the country.

The number of buses carrying migrants arriving at the Port Authority Bus Terminal recently fell from 10 to two, Adams said in a interview on CNBC’s Squawk Box Friday morning. A tent camp for migrants with 1,000 beds open this week on Randall’s Island in response to the crisis and is home to only a few asylum seekers. Only three people had arrived at the camp on Thursday morning.

“I’m really glad we only have a handful of people” at Randall’s Island, Adams said in a separate Friday interview with 1010 Wins. “We were really worried.”

The decline of buses follows a new rule announced by the Biden administration earlier this month that aims to reduce the number of Venezuelan asylum seekers crossing the border. Regulations require Venezuelans to stay in Mexico unless they can prove they have supporters in the United States who will provide financial support.

Adams suggested that Biden’s new policy came in response to mayoral requests.

“We also sent a message to the White House that we need to have a real decompression strategy,” he said. “They set this up.”

More than 21,000 asylum-seeking migrants have arrived in New York in recent months, administration officials told local elected officials during a private Thursday briefing obtained by Gothamist. Many of the new arrivals are Venezuelans without families or connections, transported to town by elected officials from border states, particularly Texas, as part of a “political stunt”, local officials said.

The city has opened two humanitarian aid centers to temporarily house and care for asylum seekers, one in the Row hotel in Midtown and the 84,400 square foot tent camp in a Randall’s Island parking lot.

The Democratic mayor of El Paso, Texas also stopped sending migrant buses to New York, Adams said.

Citing the new federal border policy and fewer unauthorized border crossings, a spokesperson for the city of El Paso said El Paso counts that two charter buses leaving Thursday would be the last. The border city has sent 292 buses carrying more than 14,000 migrants to New York and Chicago since late August, the local publication reported. The City of El Paso did not immediately respond to a Gothamist request for comment.

City hall did not respond Friday to a request from Gothamist for data supporting Adams’ claims, but other city officials and immigrant advocacy groups have recently noted a similar decline in the number of migrant buses.

Manuel Castro, commissioner of the Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Affairs, warned elected officials during Thursday’s briefing that it is too early to tell whether the numbers will remain at such a low level in the long term. Other elected officials made similar remarks during a tour of Randall’s Island migrant camp on Tuesday.

“We’re glad to see the buses seem to be slowing down and we really appreciate the Biden administration for that,” Anne Williams-Isom, deputy mayor for health and human services, said during the tour. “But it’s only been a few days.”

Adams and local agency leaders say the surge in asylum seekers since the spring has severely strained the city shelter system and social services. The influx of migrants has set a new record for the number of people living in the city’s accommodation system. As of Thursday, there were 63,749 people in the shelters. Adams estimated the migrant crisis could cost the city up to $1 billion this fiscal year.

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