NYC opening humanitarian relief centers for asylum seekers, mayor announces

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(NEW YORK) -- New York City plans to open humanitarian relief centers for asylum seekers coming from Texas and states along the southern border, Mayor Eric Adams announced Thursday.

The Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Centers will offer aid to individual and family asylum seekers by providing them food, medical care, shelter and casework services, Adams said in a press release. The centers will be the "first touch point" for asylum seekers arriving in the city, the release says.

"More than 100 years ago, Ellis Island opened its doors to welcome in those 'yearning to breathe free.' Now, more than ever, it's clear that we are again dealing with a humanitarian crisis created by human hands. While other leaders have abdicated their moral duty to support arriving asylum seekers, New York City refuses to do so," Adams said.

Since May, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has sent thousands of migrants seeking asylum to New York City as part of his busing policy, Adams told "Nightline" co-anchor Byron Pitts last month.

"It's the worst type of politics," Adams told "Nightline." "It's hateful politics to raise his national profile and, you know what, you should not be doing it by taking away the respect and dignity of people who are in need."

The Republican governor defended his policy of sending migrants from the Texas-Mexico border to Democrat-controlled cities, telling Pitts in a "Nightline" interview that Texas must secure its border.

Abbott also criticized Adams, calling him a "hypocrite because New York City is a self-declared 'sanctuary city,'" a city where the local government protects undocumented immigrants from deportation by the federal government.

Adams said during a June 21 press conference that the city would find shelter for migrants arriving from Texas under the state's "right to shelter" law.

But as thousands of asylum seekers arrived in New York City over the past couple of months, the shelter system has been strained.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis received blowback from Democrats and some Republicans for sending two planes of migrants to Martha's Vineyard last week.

DeSantis said the move was a message to President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to do their "damn job" and secure the border.

The new relief centers will be operated by the New York City Emergency Management agency and NYC Health + Hospitals, which operates the city's public hospitals. Two centers will open in the coming weeks, with more to open as needed, the city said.

"This emergency response represents what we know must be done during this humanitarian crisis, as we continue to seek assistance from our federal and state partners to continue this work," Adams said in Thursday's press release. "Like the generations that came to our city before, New York will provide the thousands now coming to our city with the foundation to build a better life."

ABC News' Deena Zaru and Sabina Ghebremedhin contributed to this report.

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