PUEBLA, Mexico (AP) — New York City Mayor Eric Adams brought a mix of messages to central Mexico’s Puebla state Thursday, trying carefully to walk the line for a city known for welcoming migrants from around the world, but currently struggling with an influx of asylum seekers.
Inside Puebla’s ornate state congress building, decked floor-to-ceiling in cream-yellow Portuguese tiles broken only by Greco-Roman columns, Adams focused on the ties binding his city and a Mexican state that has sent some 800,000 of its people to New York over the years.
But later, talking to reporters, Adams again returned to the refrain that he has carried on his Latin America trip: New York is “at capacity.”
“We are neighbors. We are familia. Mi casa es su casa. Your struggles are my struggles,” Adams said inside the legislative chamber shortly after state Gov. Sergio Salomón Céspedes dubbed him “Mayor of Puebla York.”
Migrants “are our future and we cannot lose one of them,” Adams said.
Speaking to reporters immediately afterwards, however, the mayor was more direct.
“There is no more room in New York. Our hearts are endless, but our resources are not,” he said. “We don’t want to put people in congregate shelters. We don’t want people to think they will be employed.”
Adams said around 800,000 immigrants from the state of Puebla live in New York City, which has had to absorb over 120,000 more asylum seekers in the last year.
Late Tuesday, New York City asked a court for the ability to suspend its unique, so-called “right to shelter” agreement that requires it to provide emergency housing to anyone who asks for it.
The filing is the latest in a monthslong attempt to suspend the law that has long made New York a sanctuary city. The Adams administration argues the agreement was never designed for a humanitarian crisis like the city faces today.
Adams said the current crisis has been partly caused by what he called Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s “inhumane” decision last April to send migrants on chartered buses from his state to New York City.
“These are human beings that have traveled in very dangerous terrains. And what he’s doing is exploiting this for political reasons,” said Adams.
In his address to Puebla’s state congress earlier, the mayor emphasized the role of New York City’s migrant community during the pandemic. “During COVID-19 it was your children that kept our stores open, the first responders, transportation professionals, healthcare professionals,” he said. “We survived COVID because your children were in our city.”
After the speeches by Puebla’s governor and the city mayor, members of congress began chanting “Adams hermano, ya eres poblano,” a welcome that translates to “Brother Adams, you are already a Pueblan.”
Later, speaking to New York media, Adams said these are “extremely challenging times.”
“It’s going to be extremely painful for New Yorkers and migrants and asylum seekers,” he said. “They deserve a more dignified environment than what we are able to give because of the magnitude of this problem, and the costs associated with it, and of the navigation of this crisis.”
The mayor began a four-day tour of Latin America on Wednesday evening with a visit to the Basilica of Guadalupe, in Mexico City, a place of worship for many would-be migrants immediately before they begin their journey north.
Over the next two days Adams plans to travel to Quito, Ecuador, and Bogota, Colombia, before visiting the jungle-clad Darien Gap, a particularly dangerous section of the route many migrants take north at the border of Panama and Colombia.
Associated Press writer Michael Hill in New York City contributed to this report.
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