NEW YORK (WABC) -- New York City estimates about 2,800 asylum seekers from Central and South America have arrived by bus from Texas and Arizona -- and blamed the Republican governors from those states.
Anyone seeking shelter in New York legally cannot be turned away.
"They're going to have to come up with enough beds to ensure that everybody gets a place to sleep as required by law and doesn't have to sleep in a city office overnight," said Josh Goldfein, of the Legal Aid Society.
That is exactly what happened last week - for the first time in about a decade, several families had to sleep in the Department of Homeless Services Building in the Bronx, where they are processed - when the city didn't find the a place to sleep by 10 p.m.
"We recognized where we failed, but we are going to always strive for excellence because, why? Our families deserve it when they come to our doors seeking help," said DHS Commissioner Gary Jenkins.
The Legal Aid Society says the families who arrive are interviewed about how they go here and so far, there is no evidence of any large scale coordinated effort to send asylum seekers to New York.
"The governors of Texas and Arizona have bragged very publicly about transporting people to Washington D.C. And if they were transporting people to New York, I'm sure they would brag about that too. In fact, now that the Mayor's given them the idea, they may try to do that," Goldfein added.
Mayor Adams said Thursday whether asylum seekers are being sent here or choosing to come here, the city needs the federal government's help.
"We think FEMA should kick in right now, allow us to take this issue that this country is facing, and we are hoping they're doing so, and we're optimistic that they are. We have not communicated with the other bordering states on why they're doing it. It's wrong to send people out of your state," Adams said.
He says the city will meet its legal obligation. Legal Aid, which works with the coalition for the homeless says the city can do that. But it's hard right now, with shelters full of people struggling to afford housing.
"There are fewer shelters for people to go to because every time the city tries to open a shelter local elected officials call the mayor and say I don't want a shelter in my district, put it somewhere else," said Goldfein.
The next step may be using hotels like the city did during height of the pandemic.
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