The following is a transcript of an interview with New York City Mayor Eric Adams that aired on "Face the Nation" on Oct. 8, 2023.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mayor Eric Adams is back in New York City this morning after a trip through Mexico and Central America where he delivered a message, his city cannot handle more migrants and he needs more help from the federal government. Mayor Adams joins us from New York. Good morning to you, sir.
MAYOR ERIC ADAMS: Good morning. And, if I can at the start of the broadcast, I just want to- I landed this morning, and I am pained over the horrific attacks in Israel, my heart goes out to the Israeli people. We have the largest Jewish population outside of Tel Aviv, here in his city. And it's really horrifying to look at some of the images. And again, I'm lifting them up in my prayers this morning, as well as other New Yorkers.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I saw your governor condemned a protest that's supposed to be held in Times Square that's described as in support of the perpetrators of the attack. Is that going to take place and security wise, are you concerned?
MAYOR ADAMS: I was briefed this morning with the elected officials and I communicated while I was abroad with my police leaders, to make sure that we will monitor the protests here in the city. One has the right to protest, even if I strongly disagree with any form of celebrating such a horrific incident like this. But we are going to monitor to make sure that people do it in a peaceful way. They're going to be I'm sure pro-Israel organizers as well. And we're going to make sure that people abide by the law.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you about this trip you just took throughout Central America, and you went to the Darien Gap, that transit point between North and South America. Why did you make this visit? And what did you learn?
MAYOR ADAMS: It was extremely important. And you know, this is my style of governance. You know, people know I go to crime scenes when victims of police violence. I'm going to go when there's a horrific fire on the ground. We cannot stay in the sterilized environments of our executive chambers while there are real things happening on the ground. And Ground Zero is what's taking place in this region in this hemisphere- what's happening in Colombia, Ecuador, and Mexico. And I needed to see firsthand why we are seeing the flow and speak with the leaders there to see exactly what was taking place. And it was an eye opener for me, just to learn that over 21% of those who are going through the Darien Gap, they are children. This is a children crisis that we are facing. And I'm wanting to communicate with the local CEOs, local elected leadership there, and the local citizens and residents to learn from them, but also to send a clear message on their media. New York is out of room, and we need to communicate that
MARGARET BRENNAN: You've said this will destroy New York City. We had your governor on last Sunday and she said the border is "too open." She called for a change to asylum laws. Is that something you are calling for too?
MAYOR ADAMS: Yes, I want to thank the governor, because we see what's happening to the city. And when you look at the flow, think about this for a moment. 375,000 migrants- asylum seekers went through the Darien Gap this year. That's 100,000 more than last year. 200,000 more than 2021. Just this- the first- the last week of September, we had over 3,700 asylum seekers that came to New York City. That's an increase. We were getting 600 a week, which was unsustainable. And now we're up to- of getting anywhere from eight- almost 800 a week. These numbers are not sustainable. And it's not sustainable in Chicago when people are living in police precincts, Los Angeles, Houston, Washington. This is just not right, what is taking place.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You are asking the courts in New York to suspend the right to shelter rule which requires emergency housing to be provided. What's your plan to prevent that from contributing to more homelessness?
MAYOR ADAMS: Well, our legal team is not asking for a suspension. We want clarification. This is a humanitarian crisis that we are facing. This is not what the architects of right to shelter thought about when you were dealing with those New Yorkers who needed shelter. We can't have a rule that one can come from anywhere on the globe and come to New York City and remain in New York City as long as they want and taxpayers must pick up the cause. This is a $5 billion price tag this fiscal year. $12 billion over three years. That money is coming from somewhere. It is unfair to the migrant seekers and asylum seekers. And it's also unfair to everyday taxpayers, New York- New Yorkers. And so we want clarification coming from the courts.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You had called on the Biden administration to grant temporary protection, which they did to some Venezuelans, so they could work so they could get out of the shelters. And there are a large number of Venezuelan migrants, I know, in the city. The governor of Illinois, who is about to join us, says that many of these people can't even afford to apply. And they need the federal government to waive fees. Has the Biden administration understood the problem that it says it's trying to solve, like, what do they need to do?
MAYOR ADAMS: You know, one of the most troubling aspects of this conversation as people regulated this to just a Mayor Adams and the President's conversation. We need to really wake up. This is a global crisis of movements of human beings for several different reasons based on which country you're looking at. And we need to reexamine not only our long term immigration policies, but how do we allow people on a pathway of being self-sustaining. The only reason we are who we are as a country is because people have the right to work. I keep saying that's the precursor to sleep that allows you to experience the American dream, not being able to be self-sustaining, pay into the tax base of all groups, not only just the Venezuelans. The rule and policy that was put in place with impact, we believe 15 to 17,000 in that area, but we have people coming from West Africa, South America, Central America, China, all over the globe is coming to this hemisphere, and we need to be prepared with the right policies, and get this done correctly.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And we're going to continue this conversation, Mr. Mayor, with our next guests. So thank you for giving us your view.
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