Following the asylum-seeker odyssey: a timeline

Tracking the arrival of migrants bused to New York City from the southern border, from April 2022 to now.

Midtown Manhattan’s Roosevelt Hotel, which closed three years ago, as it was being prepped to reopen to accommodate an anticipated influx of asylum-seekers into New York City on May 15, 2023.

Midtown Manhattan’s Roosevelt Hotel, which closed three years ago, as it was being prepped to reopen to accommodate an anticipated influx of asylum-seekers into New York City on May 15, 2023. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

More than 205,000 migrants have arrived in New York City since the spring of 2022, many hailing from countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, though a significant number have also come from countries in Africa and China. City officials, advocacy groups, school communities, nonprofits and a bevy of elected officials have mobilized to welcome the ongoing flow of new arrivals, but it’s been a massive – and costly – undertaking. 

The city has a longstanding legal obligation to provide a shelter bed to anyone who asks, and the Adams administration has set up a sweeping network of more than 200 emergency shelter sites, enrolled tens of thousands of migrant children in schools, helped people apply for asylum and or work permits and deployed a slew of supporting services. Aid from the federal government has been scant, and city officials have scrambled to lower costs amid initial projections that responding to the humanitarian crisis would cost the city about $12 billion over three years. Projections have since been lowered to about $10.6 billion over the next three years.  

With shelter space dwindling and many of the state’s counties refusing to help the city house new arrivals, the Adams administration has limited shelter stays to 60 days for families and 30 days for single adult migrants. Around 65,000 migrants are still in city shelters. Two years in, city officials are referring to the crisis as the “new normal,” but developments are ongoing. This timeline was last updated in July 2024

April 13, 2022: The first bus with migrants from Texas arrives in Washington, D.C. Some of those migrants then continue on to New York.

July 21, 2022: New York City Mayor Eric Adams said the city did not admit several asylum-seeking families to a shelter in a timely manner as required by law.

Aug. 5, 2022: The first bus of migrants directly sent by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott arrives at the Port Authority Bus Terminal.

Aug. 19, 2022: The Adams administration announces “Project Open Arms,” a plan to support asylum-seeking families and children to help them enroll in school.

Sept. 8, 2022: Over 1,400 children from migrant families begin their first day of school in New York City.

Sept. 12, 2022: The Legal Aid Society says New York City failed to meet its right-to-shelter duty by failing to provide beds to at least 60 men.

Sept. 14, 2022: Claiming that the city’s shelter system “is nearing its breaking point,” Adams suggests that New York City may need to reassess its right-to-shelter law.

Sept. 22, 2022: Adams announces plans to open Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Centers to support asylum-seekers. He says the first one will open at an Orchard Beach parking lot in the Bronx. The site is criticized for being in a flood zone.            

Oct. 3, 2022: After a weekend storm leaves pools of water at Orchard Beach, city leaders say they’ll move the tent complex to Randalls Island.

Oct. 7, 2022: Adams declares a state of emergency as the sheer volume of new arrivals overwhelms the city’s shelter system.

Oct. 12, 2022: President Joe Biden invokes a pandemic-era rule known as Title 42, which prevents Venezuelans who illegally cross the border from seeking asylum.

Oct. 19, 2022: A 84,000-square foot migrant center opens on Randalls Island with 500 beds for single men.

Nov. 10, 2022: Adams says the controversial tent shelter on Randalls Island will close the following week due to the slowing rate of migrant arrivals.

Nov. 14, 2022: Migrants staying at Randalls Island are relocated to the Watson Hotel in Midtown.

Dec. 20, 2022: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and others negotiate $800 million in competitive grants for cities like New York struggling to provide aid to migrants.

Jan. 10, 2023: Gov. Kathy Hochul delivers her annual State of the State speech without mentioning the asylum-seeker crisis.

Jan. 15, 2023: Adams meets with local authorities and migrants at the southern border. He describes this as an information-gathering trip and another effort to pressure Biden to help the city.

Jan. 18, 2023: Adams travels to Washington, D.C., to continue advocating for federal funding.

Jan. 21, 2023: Adams says that a new Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Center will open to serve single adult men at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal.

Feb. 1, 2023: Hochul releases her executive budget plan, pledging to give the city more than $1 billion in the coming year to help officials respond to the influx of asylum-seekers.

Feb. 7, 2023: Adams says the city plans to open a sixth emergency center at the world’s tallest Holiday Inn, which is in the Financial District.

Feb. 8, 2023: Reporting circulates that New York City is buying bus tickets for migrants hoping to seek asylum in Canada. The government of Quebec asked Adams’ City Hall to stop it. 

Feb. 15, 2023: Adams says a seventh emergency center will open at the The Wingate by Wyndham Hotel in Long Island City, Queens, this time for families with children. 

Feb. 21, 2023: The Biden administration proposes a new, more aggressive immigration measure that would assume migrants are ineligible for seeking asylum if they enter the U.S. illegally. The proposed rule, which would take effect on May 11 after the likely termination of Title 42, would allow authorities to carry out rapid deportations of migrants at border entries.

March 7, 2023: Adams unveils a new blueprint plan for the city’s path forward with asylum-seekers that includes relocating some migrants to other cities and states, pivoting away from the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown as the primary destination for newly arrived asylum-seekers and opening a “24/7 Arrival Center” instead, and creating a new Office of Asylum-Seeker Operations.

March 13, 2023: Adams announces that the city will soon open two more emergency centers as the location at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal transitions back to its regular operations ahead of cruise season at the end of the month. The new centers, which will serve single adult men, will open in Midtown, Manhattan and Bushwick, Brooklyn.

March 13, 2023: The New York Post found that New York City’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement office’s appointments are fully booked through October 2032 for migrants released at the southern border. 

March 29, 2023: The Adams administration submits a request to the federal Emergency Management Agency asking for $650 million to reimburse the city’s expenses for providing shelter and services to asylum-seekers between July 2022 and Feb. 28, 2023.

April 19, 2023: Adams assails the president in his strongest terms yet, accusing national leaders of turning their back on New York City while urging Biden to allow recent migrants to apply for temporary protected status so that they legally work. New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams also travels to Washington D.C. to meet with various executive agencies and lawmakers and push them to help.

April 24, 2023: State leaders agree during budget negotiations to approve a $1 billion plan to aid asylum-seekers in New York City. 

April 26, 2023: Adams stresses ongoing costs associated with asylum-seekers while unveiling his budget proposal, attributing agency spending cuts in part to the $4.3 billion sum he estimates the city will spend responding through the end of the fiscal year 2024.

May 1, 2023: Denouncing Abbott’s plan to resume the uncoordinated busing of asylum-seekers to New York and several other Democrat-run cities, Adams accuses the Texas governor of specifically targeting cities run by Black mayors.

May 3, 2023: The first bus sent by Texas officials in months arrives in the city.

May 5, 2023: The Adams administration learns that the city will receive almost $31 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to use for costs associated with shelter, food and health care services for asylum-seekers in the first round of funding – a mere fraction of the $350 million that city leaders applied for. Saying that the city is running out of space to house new arrivals, Adams announces plans to move – and continue paying for – willing single adult male migrants to two hotels in the suburbs, which would be in Orangeburg, in Rockland County, and one in Orange Lake, in Orange County.

May 7, 2023: Rockland County officials condemn Adams’ plan to move asylum-seekers to the area, issuing a state of emergency and claiming that they were caught off guard by the move despite Adams saying he’d consulted with state and local leaders. It is unclear whether the state of emergency will prevent the plan from taking place. 

May 8, 2023: The Independent Budget Office releases several cost scenario estimates on how much the city will likely spend in response to the influx across 2023 and 2024, which range from from $1.6 billion to $600 million less than the estimate included in Adams’ executive budget.  

May 9, 2023: Amid growing pushback from some local officials,  a state Supreme Court judge issues a temporary restraining order, barring a Rockland County hotel from accepting any asylum-seekers for the time being. Hochul declares a state of emergency that will allow the state to dispatch as many as 500 additional members of the National Guard to help the city and expedite the distribution of the $1 billion in state aid. CBS2 obtains a memo that says that in anticipation of 800 asylum-seekers to arrive each day after Title 42 expires, the city is even considering closing sections of city streets for temporary housing and using tents and small houses in Central Park.

May 10, 2023: In the wake of a slew of reporting saying city leaders are scrambling to find new places to set up emergency shelters, City Council members criticize the Adams Administration during a budget hearing for what they say is not doing enough to build long-term infrastructure needed to support asylum-seekers. Later in the evening, Adams issues an executive order temporarily suspending parts of the city’s right-to-shelter law, including a rule that requires people seeking shelter to receive a bed within a specific timeframe. 

May 11, 2023: After weeks of city officials warning about how the end of Title 42 could dramatically increase the number of asylum-seekers entering the city, the federal policy is lifted. Several dozen asylum-seekers sent by the city arrive at a hotel in Orange County despite the ongoing objections of local officials.

May 15, 2023: Adams signs another executive order temporarily suspending rules around the city’s review process for finding and constructing new homeless shelters. 

May 16, 2023: Adams says that up to 20 New York City public school gyms could be transformed into emergency shelters for asylum-seekers. The city begins outfitting several buildings in Brooklyn with cots and at least one begins sheltering people. Parents, angry at the potential disruption to school activities and questioning the lack of facilities, protest outside of the schools. A judge bars the city from sending more asylum-seekers to Orange County, although the 186 people currently staying are allowed to stay.

May 17, 2023: The city reverses course on using public school gyms as emergency migrant shelters, but leaves the door open to the buildings potentially being used again in the future if proven necessary. News that city officials are considering housing migrants in a shuttered Rikers Island jail draws backlash.

May 18, 2023: After nine months of operations, city officials move to shutter the asylum-seeker welcome center inside the Port Authority Bus terminal. 

May 19, 2023: The city’s new centralized welcome center for migrants opens at The Roosevelt Hotel in midtown Manhattan. More than two dozen counties pursue legal action to try and avoid hosting migrants. An investigation from the Mid-Hudson News debunks falsified claims that veterans had been displaced from a Newburgh hotel to make room for migrant arrivals. 

May 22, 2023: In their first joint appearance centered on the migrant crisis, Hochul and Adams appear together to call on the federal government to allow for expedited work authorization for asylum-seekers. Reps. Dan Goldman and Jamaal Bowman send a letter to the leaders of CUNY, SUNY, NYU and other private institutions urging them to open up dorms and other apartments to asylum-seekers over the summer. 

June 7, 2023: Building on the roughly $30 million in federal funding offered in May, the Biden administration agreed to provide the city with an additional $104.6 million to help officials manage the influx of migrants through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Shelter Services Program.

June 28, 2023: Spurred by the ongoing arrival of migrants, the city reports a record 100,000 people staying in homeless shelters.

July 19, 2023: Adams says the city will begin discouraging asylum-seekers from coming to the city by distributing fliers at the southern border warning migrants that there is no guarantee they will receive shelter or services if they come to the city.

Aug. 9, 2023: As newcomers continue to arrive every week by the hundreds, Adams says the city has estimated it will spend $12 billion to house and care for migrant arrivals over the next three years. 

Aug. 22, 2023: Attorney General Letitia James’ office launches an investigation into DocGo, a for-profit medical company that was awarded a $432 million no-bid contract to provide services to migrants in the city and upstate towns.

Aug. 28, 2023: Alejandro Mayorkas, the Biden administration’s Homeland Security secretary, sends a letter to city and state officials identifying an array of “structural and operational issues” in the city’s response to the migrant crisis.

Sept. 6, 2023: Under a new policy, Adams says his administration will start giving single adult migrants staying in city-run shelters notices informing them that they have 60 days to either find alternative housing or vacate their current placement and reapply at the main intake center at the Roosevelt Hotel. 

Sept. 7, 2023: In a series of provocative remarks at a town hall meeting, Adams says he doesn’t see an end to the migrant crisis and warns that “this issue will destroy New York City.”

Sept. 20, 2023: The Biden administration expands temporary protected status to Venezuela, allowing roughly 60,000 newly arrived Venezuelans in New York to apply for work permits.

Sept. 22, 2023: Adams further tightens the new shelter limits, allowing adult migrants to stay only 30 days in city-run facilities before they must reapply for shelter placement.

Oct. 6, 2023: On a four-day trip, Adams travels to Mexico, Ecuador and Colombia to discourage potential migrants from coming to the city while also developing relationships with local government leaders and gathering facts “on the ground.”

Oct. 16, 2023: After limiting shelter stays for single migrant adults to 30 days, Adams announces that he will limit shelter stays for migrant families with children to 60 days. 

Nov. 15, 2023: City school enrollment increases for the first time in eight years thanks to the influx of migrant children who have entered the public school system.

Dec. 4, 2023: New York City Comptroller Brad Lander restricts Adams’ emergency powers to enter city contracts to house and care for migrants without prior approval.

Dec. 27, 2023: Adams issues an executive order requiring charter bus companies to notify the city at least 32 hours in advance of the arrival of busloads carrying migrants. The order also limits charter bus arrival times. The change comes after 14 buses from Texas arrived in a single night. 

Jan. 1, 2024: Looking to bypass Adams’ executive order, many charter buses start dropping migrants off at New Jersey train stations. In response, Adams urges other cities in the area to issue similar restrictions.

Jan. 4, 2024: Adams announces a lawsuit seeking to recoup around $700 million from 17 charter bus and transportation companies that he says have participated in Abbott’s plan to transport more than 33,600 migrants to the city.

Jan. 9, 2024: The first wave of migrant families are forced to reapply for a shelter placement after the controversial 60-day policy starts taking effect. Advocates, educators and families worry that the change will further disrupt children’s schooling. The city evacuates nearly 500 families with children – roughly 2,000 people in total – from the Floyd Bennett field shelter ahead of a heavy storm, taking them to a local high school for the night.

Jan. 16, 2024: Hochul unveils her state budget plan, which includes $2.4 billion to help the city manage the ongoing arrival of migrants  – $500 million more than the $1.9 billion allocated by the state the previous fiscal year. Adams, unveiling his own budget, says the city’s financial outlook has improved, having cut the costs of housing and feeding migrants from $12 billion to roughly $10.6 billion over the next three years.  

March 4, 2024: Jacques Jiha, City Hall’s budget chief, reveals that the Adams administration has received only $49 million of the over $150 million in migrant crisis-related aid earmarked by the federal government.

March 14, 2024: The Biden administration finally approves the release of nearly $107 million in migrant aid after City Hall submits the necessary paperwork.

March 15, 2024:  After months of negotiations in state court, the city reaches a settlement with plaintiffs represented by the Legal Aid Society to scale back its longstanding legal obligation to provide shelter to anyone who seeks it. Under the new agreement, adult migrants will only be allowed to stay in shelters for 30 days unless they can demonstrate extenuating circumstances such as a medical disability. 

April 9, 2024: In wake of a slew of accusations pertaining to hostile security guards, food waste and poor coordination with city agencies, the city announces it won’t renew its controversial no-bid contract with DocGo after it expires on May 5. Instead, Adams plans to issue a new competitive request for proposals to find a new migrant services provider.

April 16, 2024: The New York City Council creates a new team of advisers tasked with coming up with strategies on how to help the city respond to migrants. 

May 12, 2024: A new audit from the comptroller’s office found that the city’s rollout of the 60-day policy for migrant families was haphazard and poorly communicated.

May 22, 2024: The city begins a new, more aggressive push to evict migrants from the shelter system, ruling that adult migrants who receive 30-day notices are no longer able to re-apply for a placement unless they can prove extenuating circumstances. 

June 4, 2024: Biden announces new, significant immigration restrictions, barring migrants from being granted asylum at the U.S.- Mexico border when the number of border encounters hits 2,500 per day. 

June 28, 2024: Biden extends Temporary Protected Status to around 300,000 Haitians living in the U.S.

July 2, 2024: The city expands a pilot program to over 7,300 migrant families staying in city-funded hotels, pledging to give them debit cards to buy their own food.