Mayor Adams ramps up efforts to relocate migrants through reticketing
Mayor Eric Adams has been quoted as saying that the ongoing migrant crisis could destroy New York City as we know it. To ease the strain on the city’s social services, his administration has redoubled efforts of providing one-way tickets to migrants to anywhere of their choosing.
"I have no other option, I have nowhere to go," said Tom, a migrant from Jamaica who did not want to provide his last name. He and others have been arriving at an East Village reticketing office housed in a former school building. He said he was sent there after being told he could no longer stay at a Brooklyn shelter. Many migrants were given letters stressing the limited shelter space in the city and encouraging them to connect with family, friends or other networks outside of New York City.
“They are providing them with tickets whether by bus or by the air,” said Tom after talking with city staffers inside the reticketing office.
Last week, Adams gave a stark warning at a news briefing. "We are out of room. And it’s not a matter of if people will be sleeping on the streets, it's when," he said.
The administration says it’s been increasing communication on reticketing - through which migrants are bought one-way tickets to locations outside of New York City. It's a process staffers say has been in place since the beginning, citing 1 in 4 migrants upon arrival choose to be reticketed.
“The reticketing is allowing them to go to locations they want. Some actually want to go back to their current country of origin, because they’ve realized that when you come to New York you're not automatically staying in a five-star hotel or not automatically able to get a job,” said Adams during a briefing on Oct. 31.
His administration has continuously pleaded for additional help from the state and federal government, noting the city has seen over 136, 000 migrants since the crisis began in 2022. There’s currently 65, 600 in the city’s care. Adams says reticketing migrants is a smart cost-effective way of getting what he calls a win-win without costing taxpayers more.
“If we give you a $200 ticket somewhere to go to a place where you have support, that is not having taxpayers pay for you to spend that same amount every night taking care of you,” said Adams.
Murad Awawdeh with the New York Immigration Coalition says he supports reticketing migrants but considers what the administration has been doing as forcing migrants to leave.
“Pretty much implying to them that the only thing we can support you with is the reticketing is just horrible because what we’re going to end up seeing is more people sleeping on the streets," said Murad Awawdeh, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition.
Awawdeh says the administration should focus on fixing the city’s shelter system and finding permanent housing options not just for migrants but also New Yorkers who need it.
“They can hire more real estate agents in the agency, hire more brokers, ensure that they are helping people get out of the shelter system with housing vouchers, city Fheps vouchers to be able to get into their homes,” said Awawdeh.
Amid this debate, migrants like Tom remain caught in the middle. "I’m hoping to stay in New York. I feel safer and more free to be here," said Tom.
With no one to turn to, the only option available for him and others may be to return to the arrival center at the Roosevelt Hotel to reapply for housing assistance.