Elon Musk Response to Migrants Being Sheltered in NYC Schools

By: Chris Gorrie | Published: Jan 18, 2024

As a storm recently loomed over New York City, officials made the decision to house migrants living in tent shelters into James Madison High School overnight.

This use of the high school forced students into a remote learning situation the following day, which drew backlash from parents and others, including Elon Musk.

What Elon Musk Says About Sheltering Migrants in Schools

Musk took to X to write a foreboding message about the move to his nearly 170 million followers. His message received over 53 million views and nearly 78 thousand reposts.

Elon Musk’s tweet on January 9, 2024, stating that “This is what happens when you run out of hotel rooms. Soo, cities will run out of schools to vacate. Then they will come for your homes.”


In response to a Libs of TikTok video showing migrants coming off of a yellow school bus, Musk wrote, “This is what happens when you run out of hotel rooms. Soon, cities will run out of schools to vacate. Then they will come for your homes.”


What Libs of TikTok Said About the NYC Migrants

The original Libs of TikTok tweet showed migrants being moved into James Madison High School from the tent shelter on a school bus.

Libs of TikTok tweet on January 9, 2024, stating that “Buses are now pulling up to James Madison High School and dropping off illegals. School is closed tomorrow because illegals will be sleeping in the school’s gym. This is disgraceful! NYS is prioritizing illegals over Americans.”


Their tweet shouted out that “School is closed tomorrow because illegals will be sleeping in the school’s gym. This is disgraceful! NYC is prioritizing illegals over Americans.”

Criticism Over the Tent Shelter in Brooklyn

The tent shelter that has been used to house migrants is located at an abandoned airfield in Brooklyn, Floyd Bennett Field.

An abandoned hangar at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, New York.

Gmerrill/Wikimedia Commons

Residents of NYC have criticized the city’s use of the abandoned airfield, due to its vulnerability to coastal flooding from storms and exposure to high-speed winds. The evening that migrants were moved, there was an expectation of 70 mph winds.

Why the City Moved the Migrants

The city primarily moved migrants in a last-ditch effort to get them out of a vulnerable situation that could’ve been disastrous. New York City’s mayor, Eric Adams, stated that the decision came “out of an abundance of caution to ensure the well-being of those entrusted to our care.”

New York City mayor Eric Adams standing at a podium in a suit.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York/Wikimedia Commons

Adams, a Democrat, continued, “While families are already in the process of temporarily being relocated, the city will ensure that essential services and the highest level of support are provided to all impacted by this decision.”

Where Did New York City’s Migrants Come From?

It is well known that NYC has been facing a migrant crisis for some time. But the situation has ballooned to unmanageable levels over the past 9 or so months.

Texas governor Greg Abbott standing at a podium speaking in a suit.

World Travel & Tourism Council/Wikimedia Commons

This abnormal influx of migrants into the city was largely prompted by Texas governor Greg Abbott’s decision to develop stricter southern border security. He has started a busing campaign that sends migrants north from Texas.


Why is New York City Accepting Migrants?

NYC has a long history as a city defined by migration, stemming from the days of the Ellis Island immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. But why is the city accepting so many migrants today and seemingly creating a crisis for itself?

Statue of Liberty pictured on the left side of the photo, with New York City’s skyline extending out across the rest of the image. The Atlantic Ocean is in the foreground.

Pierre Blaché/Unsplash

The city is partly under legal obligation to do so. Under the city’s unique “Right to Shelter” law, it must provide shelter and food to homeless people, including migrants. The New York State Constitution states that “the aid, care and support of the needy are public concerns and shall be provided by the state and by such of its subdivisions, and in such manner and by such means, as the legislature may from time to time determine.”


Massachusetts’ State of Emergency

In tandem with New York City’s state of emergency over their influx of more than 17,000 migrants, Massachusetts governor Maura Healey likewise declared a state of emergency.

Governor of Massachusetts Maura Healey wearing a blue blazer and speaking while sitting at a conference table.

Office of Governor Maura Healey of Massachusetts/Wikimedia Commons

Healey has gone so far as to ask families in Massachusetts to seriously consider sponsoring migrants and hosting them in their homes. This comes as a last resort in response to the state’s maxed out shelter system.


Not All of New York’s Politicians Agree

While the mayor made his decision regarding the migrant move into James Madison High School, not all local politicians are in agreement about it.

An empty school gymnasium with one person standing in the center of it. The gym is dimly lit and has a row of chairs lined up in the background of the image.

Patricia Valério/Unsplash

For example, New York City councilmember Inna Vernikov has stated that “Our public schools are meant to be places of learning and growth for our children, and were never intended to be shelters or facilities for emergency housing.” Vernikov has further added that parents are right to be concerned, and that this move could potentially disrupt the entire school environment and place massive burdens on administration.


Parents Rally and Teachers Go Missing

Parents rallied outside of the Brooklyn high school on Wednesday in protest of the migrant occupation.

An empty chair facing the ocean on a high cliff. A bag sits next to the chair.


The rallying has been primarily motivated by a lack of teacher engagement in the remote learning environment that students have been forced into. Parents interviewed by news outlets on site stated that some teachers have not shown up to their remote classes, while others have appeared for a few minutes, assigned some work, and promptly logged off.


Assemblyman Mike Reilly Joins Protesting Parents

New York State Assemblyman Mike Reilly joined the host of rallying parents outside James Madison High School on Wednesday.

A storm cloud brewing over some buildings, photographed from a window. The inside of the cloud is bright white, purple, and orange-red.

Nighthawk Shoots/Unsplash

Reilly, who introduced a bipartisan bill some time ago to try and stop schools from being used as potential shelter, stated that “We knew this was going to happen. Today it’s James Madison. Where’s tomorrow? Or the next day? These storms are coming. It’s the winter time.”


Other Options for Temporary Housing in the Future

Many citizens and local politicians in New York City and the state agree that the use of Floyd Bennet Field was a foreseeable misstep by the city’s mayor. Some have offered reasonable alternatives.

A tent city on a street sidewalk. The tents are dilapidated and junk sits around them.

Graywalls/Wikimedia Commons

Some have noted that there are copious amounts of abandoned commercial property that the city could use. Zach Iscol from New York City Emergency Management has noted that everyone realizes the need for improved temporary sheltering amid the crisis. He says that the city projects to spend $4.7 billion in migrant relief to fix mounting issues throughout 2024.