May 20, 2023, 2:00am EDT
politicsNorth America

A look at how U.S. cities are struggling to accommodate migrants

NYC Migrants
REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

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The News

New York City is reportedly considering housing migrants at Riker’s Island prison facilities as the city struggles to find appropriate accommodations for new arrivals.

Officials in some southern cities said they have not seen an expected rise in crossings that was expected following the end of Title 42 — a controversial Trump-era policy from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic which allowed authorities to swiftly turn away migrants encountered at the U.S.-Mexico border.

But cities where many of these migrants are bussed from southern states to are reaching capacities that threaten budgets and are straining resources.

Here’s a look at some of the most critical hotspots.

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The View From New York City

With the Rikers Island move not yet official, authorities are currently housing migrants across 150 emergency sites, mostly hotels, across all five city boroughs. About 50% of these rooms are now occupied, and that number is expected to rise in the coming weeks.


Gov. Kathy Hochul is also considering moving migrants to upstate counties, but some local authorities in these counties are suing New York City, saying they are not responsible for accommodating migrants.

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The View From Chicago

Nonprofits and churches in Chicago have been carrying the weight of migrant accommodations, according to multiple local news reports, with the city so far lacking a structured system to help new arrivals. Some city lawmakers say that despite allocating $20 million per month to helping with the crisis, many are unaware where the money is being spent.

Mayor Brandon Johnson has spent his first few days in office visiting many migrant respite centers, but he has so far not offered any new ideas or proposals on how to mitigate the crisis.

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The View From Washington, D.C.

Border states like Texas have sent over 170 busses of migrants to Washington, D.C., since April 2022, a political stunt aimed at angering federal lawmakers.

The situation has gotten much more severe in recent weeks. Despite creating a separate agency to deal with migrant services, Mayor Muriel Bowser said that the city has already far surpassed the agency’s $10 million budget as it struggles to feed new arrivals.

Bowser also announced this month that the city would no longer be able to accommodate new arrivals in city hotels, with many having reached capacity. The city is working with leaders in Maryland and Virginia to find other housing schemes.

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Step Back

The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed an appeal from Republican-controlled states to maintain Title 42.

Still, the Biden administration has vowed to maintain other provisions that aim to stop migrants from staying in the United States. These have included setting up expedited deportation processing centers along the border, and a new regulation that bans people seeking asylum if they travelled through multiple countries on their way to the U.S.-Mexico border.