Governor Hochul: "They're eager to work. They want to work. They came here in search of work and a new future, and they can become part of our economy and part of our communities, and people are ready to start training them right in facilities like we have here today."
Hochul: "I took note of the Statue of Liberty in Ellis Island as I came here this morning, a reminder of my teenage grandparents who fled great poverty in Ireland over a century ago Their children, eight children packed into a tiny house, became business leaders, school superintendents, educators, and a granddaughter even became a governor. That's what happens in one generation, one generation. People's lives are transformed, they are changed. That is the story of New York. And let us have the power to give that same right, that same opportunity to people."
Earlier today, Governor Hochul, joined by Mayor Eric Adams, called for expedited work authorization for asylum seekers.
VIDEO of the event is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h.264, mp4) format here.
AUDIO of the event is available here.
PHOTOS of the event are available on the Governor's Flickr page.
A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks are available below:
Good morning, everyone. Great to see you here in this spectacular venue. Danny Meyer, you sure know how to host an event on short notice, and I want to thank you for welcoming us to this training center. 30,000 square foot kitchen and all sorts of facilities. And the operative word is on 'training,' training workers, which is why we're here today.
I do want to acknowledge, and I'll be presenting him in a few minutes, but having our mayor here, a great teammate, a great partner. And I want to thank him for his continual communication and working together and just rolling up our sleeves. Let's give another round of applause to our mayor, Eric Adams.
Thank you. We also have the dean of the Congressional delegation. Jerry Nadler has joined us - a strong, important voice for us in Washington D.C., joined by Congressman Dan Goldman. We are in your house. This is your district as well. And thank you for all you're doing for us and your focus on helping us solve problems.
Kathryn Wylde, the President of the Partnership for New York City. I want to tell you, whenever there's a crisis you are there to roll up your sleeves with all of us and to bring the business community to bear and the influence that you have. So, thank you Kathy, for working on this issue with us as well.
Dan Rigie, I want to thank you. Andrew, I'm sorry, it's Andrew. We've seen each other at many events. But, when you harness the power of the restaurants and the hotels and all the employers, there's a great story you're going to hear unfold here today about great possibilities, great opportunities that thus far have been on overlooked, and we're looking to capitalize on them today and put a lot more people to work in your facilities as well.
We are so fortunate to have the leader of the New York State AFL-CIO, again, bringing labor to the issue as well. And I want to thank Mario Cilento for his. Support for us as well, and you're going to hear from Yvert Rafa, an asylum seeker who traveled a great distance, who came with his little child from Venezuela and literally arrived here just a few weeks ago. He is going to tell you about the experience of being one of those individuals who found their way to our great city, in our great state. So you'll be hearing from him momentarily. Thank you, Yvert. Thank you.
Union Square Hospitality Group. This is extraordinary and I want to thank you again, Danny, for hosting us here. And you think about some of the greatest establishments we have in the city. They have Danny's name associated with them, but one of the barriers holding back even more success is the challenge of finding workers.
Danny and I had this conversation literally just a couple days ago, and this is going to affect the future and the viability of our restaurants when people, and I'm hearing not just in the city, but all over the state, only being able to have shorter hours, reducing the days they're open, having only serve half of a dining room instead of the whole dining room, because there are not enough workers here in the State of New York.
And so, this is an issue that's affecting our economy. It's not just individuals. It's affecting us with this historic labor shortage. But at the same time, we have a historic labor shortage. We also have this unprecedented influx of infant individuals arriving in New York, all of them legally seeking asylum.
They're eager to work. They want to work. They came here in search of work and a new future, and they can become part of our economy and part of our communities, and people are ready to start training them right in facilities like we have here today. So today we are joined by all these leaders and all of you in a common goal that is to get them situated, these asylum seekers situated.
Get them shelter. Get them food. Get them legal services. And then help them get to work. And so these are yet challenges, but what a great opportunity for us here in New York. And I have to say, over the last many months, a year ago, longer than a year ago, the mayor and his team have been asked to do the impossible.
But he rose up. He put so much muscle behind the effort to find homes for these individuals any way he could. Leaving no stone unturned. And he recognized, now that we have over 70,000 people fleeing difficult, terrifying circumstances. Whether it's an oppressive regime in Venezuela, economic circumstances, great poverty, oppression, gang violence, decades of this have forced people who otherwise would be just as comfortable living at home in their own communities to have to flee those circumstances.
And so, mayor, I want to thank you again. On behalf of the people of this State for the way you just stood up to this challenge, didn't run away, didn't shirk it, and said, "let's figure this out." And that is the kind of leadership that is so critically important. That is why your partnership on this is so important.
And you recognize these are individuals who deserve compassion and dignity. And I'm talking about Yvert who talked, who just crossed the border from Texas three weeks ago with this one-year-old and a six-month-old child, how terrifying could that have been? How terrifying not knowing when you're traveling with an infant, what the next day's going to bring.
Will there people on the road who want to do your harm? Will there be enough food and water the next day? Imagine the terror of what he went through, but he was unrelenting in his pursuit of giving his little daughter a better life. It's an extraordinary story. And now he's applying for asylum to be part of the New York family.
And New York has been working so hard to provide individuals like this what they need. New York City is the number one destination for asylum seekers who have been released from federal custody, who are waiting their next steps in the process. Now we know why. New York is an incredible place to live. But it also has conferred a lot of responsibility and the fact that right now there are over 42,000 people sheltered, safely sheltered, in this city shows the effectiveness of the mayor's operation, but also the compassion of the people here in New York because this is a humanitarian crisis, not created by this city, not created by this State, but it doesn't matter.
Blaming doesn't help. We're in executive positions where you have to just manage and that's what we have to do. But we've helped. I want to thank my partners in state government. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the leader of the Senate, Carl Heastie, our Speaker, the entire legislature for seeing that more resources would be needed, and that's why just a few weeks ago, we passed $1 billion in our budget to provide for supportive services, housing and legal services.
I've committed to the mayor. I'm sure that's not the end of it. We'll just leave it at that right now. But we're going to make sure you have what you need, mayor, we're going to make sure you have what you need because we are committed to getting this right and we'll continue to work closely with you.
Right now, we have members of my senior team literally embedded working shoulder to deal with finding space, just emergency shelters, wherever we can find it. We have over 1,500 National Guard members. What are they doing? Building cribs, running out for food, making you feel secure, helping people apply for their asylum status, becoming a friend to people. And I want to thank our National Guard. This is a hurricane of sorts and they've been out there since for many months, and I want to thank them for what they're doing.
And we are identifying additional shelters. The city is overflowing. The mayor has used every ounce of creativity with him and his team to find space, and we are asking for more space. We're looking at hangers at JFK. We've asked for Floyd Bennett Field to stand up a major operation. We have other facilities we've been talking about. We'll be announcing more on that briefly. But we need all levels of government to respond to this. We truly do. And I've been working with our partners in Washington since last summer with the mayor trying to find how we can be more flexible in ensuring that these individuals can get a quicker path to a legal work status. I visited Washington again just a few days ago and was in constant communication yesterday with the White House. They know what we need. We need money, we need new places for shelter, and we need support.
But more than anything in why we're united here today with business and labor and advocates - and I do want to mention the New York Immigration Coalition is here as well, what an extraordinary job they've been doing. More than anything, we need changes to the work authorization policies that will let these individuals not have to wait months and possibly years for that legal status, but let's get it in on an expedited basis.
So, we think it's possible. Right now, you have to wait 180 days after you file for your legal asylum status. That is the big unknown. People come here, they're desperate, they're trying to figure out how to just get on their feet, they don't know the language and the burden of trying to properly fill out the asylum papers.
And then if you're missing something that someone's actually going to find you to update the application, then at some point you're going to go see a judge, we don't have enough judges here in the State of New York, so start sending some judges up and the clerical staff. Give us the support we need so they can start properly filling out the asylum process.
But, once that's done under the current rules, they then have to wait 180 more days in limbo, not able to work legally in the State of New York. That's not working. That's not a solution. They're ready to work. They're willing to work. And they're not able to work. So, we're spending a lot of money. We're dealing what we can, but we need this help from Washington.
And again, I want to thank our partners, and I've been in constant communication with Majority Leader Schumer almost daily on this issue for many months and our Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and all the members here and the entire delegation. We need this change in policy from Washington to allow Mario Cilento and Danny Meyer and Kathy Wylde to go back to everyone they represent and say, "We've solved this crisis. We have people."
So, when you think about what we have open right now, I know upstate, I know exactly where it starts too - there are over 5,000 farm jobs, 5,000 farm jobs open as we speak. The cows don't wait to be milked, the plants need to be maintained and harvested in a few months, the crops. We have more than 5,000 food service jobs right now. I'm a former waitress. I made pizzas, chicken wings, waited tables, cleaned floors, did pots and pans - doesn't take a lot of skill, I was 15 years old. Those jobs are available. 4,000 openings for janitors, cleaners, and housekeepers. As I mentioned, the jobs for farm workers as well. So, we're grateful that the Biden Administration has instituted a new border process, starting with the suspension of Title 42 on May 11th. We all know that date well. And that'll allow asylum seekers from other countries to seek sponsorship and to apply from their home countries. And if they don't, they will be turned back. So that is a shift in policy, which we hope will be successful and mitigate the flow of new arrivals here.
But in the meantime, we know who we have. They've been coming in daily, and we have to deal with the number of individuals with us now, whether it stays 71,000 or it's up to 80, we don't know what's going to happen, but we have to deal with it.
And also, one thing we're doing is having our Department of Agriculture and Markets connect with Cornell University and finding people who do have work authorization because some people have applied successfully, they're already able to work on our farms. But, that doesn't help the problems we have right now.
So again, this is an ask. We're asking again, we're pleading, saying, this is a great opportunity here in the State of New York to solve two problems: how to help these people get on their feet and support their families - and my God, who in this city has not come from somewhere else, their family. And I took note of the Statue of Liberty in Ellis Island as I came here this morning, a reminder of my teenage grandparents who fled great poverty in Ireland over a century ago. Grandpa found a job working on a wheat field in South Dakota as a migrant farm worker, and they were domestic servants in the city of Chicago until they found jobs as union workers making steel in Buffalo.
Their children, eight children packed into a tiny house, became business leaders, school superintendents, educators, and a granddaughter even became a governor. That's what happens in one generation, one generation. People's lives are transformed, they are changed. That is the story of New York. And let us have the power to give that same right, that same opportunity to people to say, "Yes, you are part of our family. We welcome you. And you're going to help us get through a crisis, the shortage of workers." We can solve for it. And that is the great opportunity we have before us today. And no one knows that better than our mayor and we are working so closely together. And I also want to say to parts of our country and our state who are enacting bigoted policies based on fear and intimidation, join us. Join us. Let people know the true story of what New York is. It was not putting out those signs, even though Grandpa saw "Irish need not apply." Eventually those signs came down and people were welcoming.
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