New York City Officials Worry As Migrant Numbers Reach 200,000 Milestone Amidst US Migrant Crisis

By: Alex Trent | Published: Jun 10, 2024

The influx of migrants streaming across the southern border into the United States continues to occur in large numbers, resulting in a new milestone being reached in New York City: Over 200,000 migrants have arrived in the past two years.

New York City officials are worried as the numbers continue to climb and they have to deal with a strain on resources and come up with solutions to address the needs of what is being described as a humanitarian crisis.

NYC Numbers

According to official New York City figures, at least 201,200 migrants have traveled to the city since spring 2022, when the recent wave of migrant crossings began.

Panoramic view of the New York City skyline at twilight, showcasing the Empire State Building and surrounding skyscrapers brightly illuminated against a dusky sky

Source: Pedro Lastra/Unsplash

Currently, the city estimates that 65,000 of these migrants are currently being cared for with city resources.


Humanitarian Crisis

City Hall spokesperson Kayla Mamelak made a statement in the wake of the milestone, not mincing words about its seriousness but also celebrating the work the city has done thus far.

A mother and daughter from Colombia pose for a photo.

Source: Jhon David/Unsplash

“In other words, in a little more than two years, a population larger than that of most major U.S. cities has descended on the five boroughs, asking for shelter,” said Mamelak. “New York City has shown the nation what responding to a national humanitarian crisis humanely looks like, and we are proud that more than 65 percent of those individuals have moved out of our shelter system.”

Worried About the Future

Although Mamelak expressed pride in how NYC has handled the crisis so far, there are concerns about how the city will continue funding efforts in the future.

A sweeping view of the New York City skyline basked in the warm glow of sunset. The foreground shows the silhouette of a high-rise residential building, and beyond it, a dense array of varied architecture

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“We are pleased to hear President Biden will be taking action at the southern border, but to be clear our city has already spent more than $4.6 billion on this crisis and continues to operate more than 200 emergency shelters,” said Mamelak in response to news of Biden’s announced executive actions cracking down on border entries.

Skyrocketing Spending

Bloomberg reported in February that New York City had spent over $1.45 billion just in 2023 on migrant-related costs, a number that has skyrocketed.

A photo of a series of one-hundred-dollar US bills.

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The city is projected to spend a combined $9.1 billion housing migrant arrivals in 2024 and 2025.

Past the Breaking Point

New York City Mayor Eric Adams has been desperate to seek financial support to continue to manage the ongoing crisis, previously saying that the city is “past the breaking point.”

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 has expressed a commitment to helping these asylum seekers no matter the cost, but is demanding that state and federal leadership do their part to help address the crisis.


Arrivals Still High

Despite recent numbers from Border Patrol showing lower crossings than a peak that occurred in December, new arrivals continue to be observed in major cities like New York City.

An agent for U.S. Customs and Border Protection watching the border form his truck.

Source: U.S. Customs and Border Protection/Wikimedia

Deputy Mayor Anne Willliams-Isom said that 1,200 new asylum seekers entered the city last week. “We now have more asylum seekers, over 65,000, than we have traditional New Yorkers in our DHS system,” said Williams.


Migrant Crisis In America

The recent influx of migrants to the US border follows a change in policy under Joe Biden that made it easier for migrants crossing to seek asylum from the United States government instead of being turned away. As part of his presidential campaign in 2020, Biden promised to easily absorb more migrants and decried the border policies under his predecessor Donald Trump.

Joe Biden sits in a chair while speaking into a microphone.

Source: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia

“We could afford to take in a heartbeat another two million,” Biden said at one event in August 2019. “The idea that a country of 330 million people cannot absorb people who are in desperate need and who are justifiably fleeing oppression is absolutely bizarre.”


Fleeing Migrants

The migrant wave currently bearing against the US southern border comes mainly from a few specific countries.

The Santa Ana volcano in El Salvador.

Source: Jennie Clavel/Unsplash

According to a December Pew Research report, 54% of all migrants came from either Mexico or the nations of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.


Biden’s Shift

As migrants continued crossing into the US in droves, each passing month forced Biden to take a more moderate, less liberal immigration position as the effects of the increasing migration were felt in America’s cities.

President Joe Biden sitting at a table in a discussion setting

Source: POTUS/X

While once celebrating America taking in more migrants, Biden in January of this year admitted the border is broken. “For too long, we all know the border’s been broken,” Biden said. “It’s long past time to fix it.”


Recent Actions

Last week, Joe Biden announced a suite of executive actions with the intended effect of reducing the number of asylum seekers that the United States would accept.

A look at a section of the border wall at the US southern border.

Source: Dicklyon/Wikimedia

“President Biden believes we must secure our border. That is why today, he announced executive actions to bar migrants who cross our Southern border unlawfully from receiving asylum. These actions will be in effect when high levels of encounters at the Southern Border exceed our ability to deliver timely consequences, as is the case today. They will make it easier for immigration officers to remove those without a lawful basis to remain and reduce the burden on our Border Patrol agents,” said a White House statement.


Not Enough

Republicans and other Biden critics felt that the actions he was taking to contain the border crisis were not enough and that in his role as president, he could do much more.

Biden walks alongside border patrol agents dressed in uniform.

Source: The White House/Wikimedia

“The reality is that President Biden possesses every tool he needs to end this self-inflicted crisis—he just doesn’t want to, because this has been intentional all along. He could reimplement the Migrant Protection Protocols. He could restore Asylum Cooperative Agreements with Central American partners. He could finish construction of new border wall system that Congress funded years ago—but which Biden halted,” said Republican House Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Mark E. Green.