ALBANY, N.Y (AP) — New York Metropolis officers wish to ease stress on overcrowded homeless shelters by housing migrants in a federal jail that after held mobsters, terrorists and Wall Road swindlers earlier than being shut down after Jeffrey Epstein’s suicide.
The proposal, recommended in an Aug. 9 letter to Gov. Kathy Hochul’s administration, got here as New York struggles to deal with the estimated 100,000 migrants who’ve arrived within the metropolis since final 12 months after crossing the southern U.S. border.
The town is legally obligated to search out shelter for anybody needing it. With homeless shelters full, New York Metropolis Mayor Eric Adams, a Democrat, has taken over inns, put cots in leisure facilities and faculty gyms and created non permanent housing in big tents.
The letter, written by a senior counsel for the town’s legislation division, identifies a number of different websites during which migrants might probably be housed, together with the defunct Metropolitan Correctional Heart, which closed in 2021.
That shutdown got here after the detention heart, whose prisoners have included Mafia don John Gotti, associates of Osama bin Laden and the Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, got here below new scrutiny due to squalid circumstances and safety lapses uncovered following Epstein’s demise.
Legal professionals had lengthy complained that the jail was filthy, infested with bugs and rodents, and affected by water and sewage leaks so unhealthy that they had led to structural points.
The letter didn’t clarify whether or not the town had truly approached the federal Bureau of Prisons about having access to the jail as residential housing for migrants. As asylum seekers, the migrants aren’t prisoners and are largely within the U.S. legally whereas their asylum functions are pending, leaving them usually free to journey.
In a press release, the federal Bureau of Prisons stated “Whereas we decline to remark regarding governmental correspondence, we are able to present; MCC New York is closed, at the least quickly, and long-term plans for MCC New York haven’t been finalized.”
Not less than one advocacy group assailed the thought of housing migrants on the jail.
“Mayor Adams likes to say that each one choices are on the desk in the case of housing asylum seekers, however sure locations ought to most positively be off the desk,” stated Murad Awawdeh, government director of the New York Immigration Coalition. “The Metropolitan Correctional Heart was a notoriously decrepit jail, and isn’t an appropriate place to help folks making an attempt to construct a brand new life in a brand new nation.”
The inflow of migrants to the town has created some stress between the Hochul and Adams administrations. Legal professionals for the 2 Democrats have sparred in courtroom filings over how finest to confront a difficulty that carries monetary, political and humanitarian implications.
In a letter this week, an lawyer representing Hochul sought to reject allegations that the state had not responded to the migrant inflow in a considerable method, detailing steps the governor has taken whereas accusing the town of failing to just accept state affords of help.
“The Metropolis has not made well timed requests for regulatory modifications, has not all the time promptly shared essential data with the State, has not carried out applications in a well timed method, and has not consulted the State earlier than taking sure actions,” the letter stated.
Hochul’s lawyer additionally famous the state has put aside $1.5 billion for the town to help migrants and has superior the town $250 million for the trouble however stated the town has solely submitted reimbursement paperwork for simply $138 million.
Avi Small, a spokesman for Hochul, stated in a press release Thursday that “Governor Hochul is grateful to Mayor Adams and his staff for his or her work to handle this ongoing humanitarian disaster. Governor Hochul has deployed unprecedented sources to help the Metropolis’s efforts and can proceed working intently with them to supply assist and help.”
The town, in its personal submitting, has recommended Hochul use government orders or litigation to safe housing for migrants in upstate New York or to contemplate making an attempt to get neighboring states to just accept migrants.
Legal professionals for the town are additionally requesting to make use of state-owned properties such because the Jacob Okay. Javitz Conference Heart or State College of New York dormitories to accommodate new arrivals, along with requesting the federal authorities enable them to make use of federal websites such because the Metropolitan Correctional Heart jail and Fort Dix.
Adams’ workplace didn’t instantly return an emailed request for remark Thursday.