NY Gov. Hochul Says She Had ‘Very Productive’ Chat With Biden On Migrants

A police officer hands out pizza to dozens of recently arrived migrants to New York City as they camp outside of the Roosevelt Hotel, which has been made into a migrant reception center, on Aug. 1, 2023, in New York City. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images/TNS)

NEW YORK (New York Daily News/TNS) — Gov. Kathy Hochul said Wednesday that she had a “brief” but “very productive” migrant-focused conversation with President Joe Biden one night earlier, and that the White House had requested the meeting.

But the governor, who has been publicly pushing the president for more support for migrants, declined to say if Biden had made any concrete promises to help the state. The meeting lasted about five minutes and took place at an event at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, said Avi Small, Hochul’s spokesman.

“It was an opportunity for me to continue to talk about ways that I believe the federal government can help New York State,” Hochul, a moderate Democrat, said at a news conference in lower Manhattan.

The governor said that she did not raise to Biden the possibility of New York issuing its own work permits to migrants, and that she would allow the federal government more time to expedite its own work paper process before attempting the extraordinary step. The White House has discouraged the state work permitting idea.

Hochul’s meeting with Biden came on the third and final night of his trip to New York for the United Nations General Assembly. The governor said the conversation was planned at the “last minute.”

“There was interest in the White House in having me spend time speaking to the president,” she said. “I take every opportunity I get to make my case on behalf of our state.”

Mayor Adams, who has harangued Biden over the asylum seeker crisis, has not met with Biden during the trip, the latest reflection of tension in the City Hall-White House relationship. While Adams has used harsh words in news conferences to press for more federal help, Hochul has taken a gentler posture and worked back channels, meeting with Biden’s advisors.

Three weeks ago, Hochul visited the White House to appeal for more migrant aid, emerging with what she described as much-needed but insufficient commitments to help get work papers to asylum seekers. Biden did not meet with Hochul during that visit.

Adams has indicated that he has not spoken with Biden in months. Hochul and Adams, who have had their own differences over the state’s role in supporting the asylum seekers, continue to speak frequently, both have said. Publicly, they have expressed pride in their partnership.

Adams was invited to the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Tuesday night reception and to Democratic fund-raisers during Biden’s visit, Politico reported, citing people familiar with the plans. There was no indication that Biden asked for a one-on-one meeting with Adams during his trip.

The mayor’s office declined to say whether the White House asked for a meeting. “We don’t discuss private conversations,” Kayla Mamelak, a spokeswoman for the mayor, said in a text.

In the spring, Adams was removed from a squad of surrogates for Biden’s reelection campaign. Afterwards, Adams said he liked Biden personally, calling him “my guy.” Hochul remains on the team.

In TV interviews on Wednesday, Adams reiterated that he believes that Biden has done an admirable job in many areas, but disagrees with the president’s approach to New York’s migrant challenge.

“I have not been quiet or secretive or private about what I feel we should be doing,” Adams told NY1, urging faster federal work permitting, more money from Washington and a national state of emergency.

He suggested Biden, who had not left the city yet, still had time to visit the migrant intake center at the Roosevelt Hotel, where some asylum seekers were forced to sleep on the sidewalk in the summer.

Through Wednesday, about 116,000 asylum seekers had arrived in New York City since spring 2022, and more than 60,000 were in the city’s care, according to a government tally.

The city, which projects the crisis to cost more than $12 billion over the next two budget cycles, has built more than 200 shelters to house arrivals.

Hochul and Adams have both called for more help from the White House and Congress. Both have said arrivals must receive work papers faster, so they can work legally and leave the shelter system.

In April, Adams told reporters that Biden had “failed” New York City. And Hochul said in an address last month: “Our quest continues to squarely tell the White House: Let them work.”

On Wednesday, Hochul said she believed Biden “has heard us” and “is listening to us.”

“He has heard me loud and clear,” the governor said.

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