Heard Around Town

NYC to migrants: ‘You are better off going to a more affordable city’

New flyers from the Adams administration deliver a blunt message to asylum-seekers who might be thinking of settling in New York City.

Flyers encouraging migrants not to come to New York City will be distributed at the border and in shelters.

Flyers encouraging migrants not to come to New York City will be distributed at the border and in shelters. Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office

Mayor Eric Adams’ administration is doubling down on its message to asylum-seekers at the southern border who might be thinking of coming to New York City: You’re better off going somewhere else. 

That message is being delivered in an updated set of flyers that the city and its partners will distribute at the border and in other cities, in an effort to “combat misinformation at the border and in cities across the country where people are coming to New York City from,” according to New York City Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Anne Williams-Isom. In some instances, Williams-Isom said, asylum-seekers already in the city are spreading the word to family members that they’ll receive housing if they come to New York, so the city will also distribute these flyers in its own shelters and intake centers.

“We definitely do want to discourage people from coming here, so that we can pretty much deal with the 113,000 people that are in our system right now,” Williams-Isom said, referring to the population already in city shelters, which the city announced actually exceeded 115,200 people as of Sept. 24, including more than 61,400 asylum-seekers.

In July, the city announced that it would begin distributing flyers with a similar message at the southern border, advising asylum-seekers that the city can’t guarantee that it will be able to provide shelter and services, and asking them to consider another city when deciding where to settle in the United States.

The updated flyers announced on Wednesday feature more blunt warnings, declaring “New York City’s resources have been exhausted,” “You will not be placed in a hotel,” and “NYC cannot help you obtain a work permit, and you will not be able to easily find work.”

The paper also reads, “NYC is one of the most expensive cities in the world; you are better off going to a more affordable city.” 

It’s a stark statement coming from a sanctuary city. And despite what the flyer says, the Adams administration is helping eligible asylum-seekers with work permits. Over the past few weeks, the city has undertaken an effort to survey all asylum-seekers going through the city’s shelter system and Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Centers, to assess where people are in the asylum process and what barriers are keeping them from exiting the system. Through that, they’re able to identify people who may already be eligible to apply for work permits. “We can immediately intervene, even with teams on site today, to help you to complete the work authorization form, and then make an appointment at our application center so that you can submit that form and get work authorization as quickly as possible,” said Ted Long, senior vice president, Ambulatory Care and Population Health, NYC Health + Hospitals.

“I think the difference that I would say is that there's no guarantee,” Williams-Isom said, when New York Times reporter Jeff Mays noted that the city is helping people with work authorization and that some asylum-seekers are still staying in hotel shelters – another apparent contradiction in the flyer. 

“We know that at the beginning of the crisis, we were able to put people in hotels. We’re no longer, I think, putting men and single adult families in hotels. We are helping, to the extent that we can, people do their work authorizations,” Williams-Isom continued. “But we want people to know that it's expensive to live here, it’s hard to live here, that it's not the way that it has been. Because I think they are hearing the word, which is like, ‘The front door is just wide open – come.’”