Santos says 'close the border' in speech outside migrant shelter at Creedmoor Psychiatric Center

Janice Yu Image
Tuesday, August 22, 2023
Congressman Santos speaks out about migrant shelter in Queens
Janice Yu reports on Congressman Santos' news conference on the migrant shelter from Queens.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Congressman George Santos spoke out against the migrant shelter being operated out of the Creedmoor Psychiatric Center campus in Queens.

"Close the border," Santos said early Tuesday morning. "We need to close the floodgates; we need to stop this. This is common sense, folks."

Watch Santos' full remarks

Congressman George Santos speaks out about migrant crisis outside Creedmoor Psychiatric Center in Queens.

He opposes using the Creedmoor Psychiatric Center campus in Queens as a shelter for migrants.

"This isn't about not wanting to help folks, this is about acknowledging a crisis," Santos said.

"Why can't we just house them all on Park Avenue 57th Street where the folks are voting for these policies," Santos asked.

He proposes that officials stop accepting migrants, both into the U.S. and into the city.

"Mayor Adams can start off by calling a state of emergency, and stop taking them in," he said.

He also highlighted the need for more immigration judges to help the backlog of cases.

It's a long-standing issue that has only continued to get worse, according to data from the Executive Office for Immigration.

The latest data shows the number of immigration judges has increased to about 700, though it's not nearly enough to help with the backlog of more than a million cases.

When asked why no Republican colleagues were with him despite many in agreement, Santos said he will work with anyone to find solutions.

The embattled congressman cited a new poll that he says shows how New Yorkers feel about the ongoing migrant crisis.

According to a Sienna College poll, 82% of New York voters view the nonstop flow of asylum seekers into the state as a serious problem.

And 58% of New Yorkers say the flow of migrants should be slowed, rather than working to assimilate them.

However, there is some good news regarding housing options for migrants.

ALSO READ | Metropolitan Correctional Center being considered as a possible migrant shelter

A big emergency shelter will be opening soon on federal property.

The state has received the green light from the federal government to use Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn.

This land is owned by the Department of Interior and the approval comes after months back and forth between the state and the federal government.

This location will be able to house up to 2,500 people.

Gov. Kathy Hochul says having many people in one location helps ensure migrants are getting the help they need from caseworkers to apply for asylum.

"This is why keeping people together in large scale congregate settings, the case management is a lot easier than trying to track down people that are all over place," Hochul said. "When you have 2,000 people together you can make it go a lot faster."

City leaders also toured the Sunset Park Recreation Center in Brooklyn Tuesday, one of the cities smaller makeshift centers.

As migrants continue to arrive in New York City, city officials say they are making progress in housing asylum seekers but they are still facing obstacles. Crystal Cranmore has the

The pool remains open, but the recreation area is closed to the public so the center can house around 100 single men.

"Some of the costs to run the smaller sites are the same to run the bigger sites so it's not even efficient," said NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.

Hochul also announced the state would provide an additional $20 million to help migrants fill out asylum applications.

ALSO READ | Exclusive NYPD ride along exposes illicit sex trade in NYC

Eyewitness News reporter Josh Einiger got an exclusive look at the NYPD's new strategy to combat the illicit sex trade surging in some parts of New York City.


* Get Eyewitness News Delivered

* More Manhattan news

* Send us a news tip

* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts

* Follow us on YouTube

Submit a tip or story idea to Eyewitness News

Have a breaking news tip or an idea for a story we should cover? Send it to Eyewitness News using the form below. If attaching a video or photo, terms of use apply.