Today, Friday November 4, 2022, Brendan McGuire, Chief Counsel to Mayor Eric Adams, spoke at the 182nd CityLaw Breakfast. Mr. McGuire spoke on “Meeting the Needs of Asylum Seekers and the Homeless Population in New York City.” Professor Ross Sandler, Director of the Center for New York City Law, provided opening remarks. Dean Anthony W. Crowell joined for a colloquy. This Breakfast was sponsored by ConEdison, Greenberg Traurig, and Verizon, and co-sponsored by the Wilf Impact Center for Public Interest Law. This was the sixteenth virtual CityLaw Breakfast as in-person events are not feasible at this time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chief Counsel McGuire began his talk by discussing the wide scope of work that the Mayor’s Office handles. He then discussed how immigrants are an essential part of New York City, noting that nearly 40 percent of New Yorkers were immigrants and 60 percent were either immigrants or the children of immigrants.
McGuire then discussed the history of seeking asylum in the US, and how the concept grew globally after the Holocaust. He then discussed how the federal government’s approach has changed over the past several years between the Trump and Biden administrations and how we got to where we are today. Describing the “humanitarian crisis,” McGuire says the lack of advance warning doesn’t allow for coordination to find family members to connect them with asylum seekers and that those arriving have “incredible” health, education, and legal needs. McGuire acknowledged that this as a whole can be traumatic, especially on the children involved.
McGuire discussed the multi-agency task force that was brought together in the spring to begin to intake asylum seekers arriving on buses at Penn Station and how Mayor Adams declared a state of emergency to help focus resources for the City’s efforts to assist the newly arrived asylum seekers. Nonprofits have also provided a tremendous amount of support as the city has set up temporary locations for asylum seekers to stay as they go through paperwork and setting up services. While some services provided were similar to those that the City offers its homeless population, more services needed to be implemented to meet the needs of asylum seekers. According to McGuire, the number of asylum seekers has slowed down, and while people are still arriving, the numbers are becoming more manageable. Nearly 23,000 people have come through they system and nearly 17,000 people are currently in the City’s care.
McGuire answered multiple questions regarding the ongoing need for attorneys and how the City is attempting to close the gap on the number of vacancies of attorneys, including partnerships with large law firms.
To watch the video, click here or watch below.