Mayor Eric Adams’ top advisor, Ingrid Lewis-Martin, on Sunday called for the federal government to “close the borders” with Mexico to stop the flow of migrants into the city.
Lewis-Martin — Adams’ influential and controversial longtime deputy — made the comments in an interview on PIX 11, responding to a question from reporter Dan Mannarino on the administration’s attempts to suspend the city’s legal right to shelter.
“We need the federal government, the congress members, the senate, and the president to do its job, close the borders,” Lewis-Martin said. “And until you close the borders, you need to come up with a full-on decompression strategy, where you can take all of our migrants and move them throughout our 50 states.”
The statement echoed a common conservative talking point on immigration policy, and in fact, Lewis-Martin’s comments were quickly backed up by some New York Republicans.
“POTUS: Listen to her. Work with us. Secure the border,” said Congress Member Marc Molinaro, an upstate Republican, in response to the video.
On the flipside, the comments drew condemnation from left-wing critics of the Adams administration. Tiffany Cabán, a democratic socialist Council member from Queens, compared Lewis-Martin to former President Donald Trump.
A spokesperson for Mayor Adams said the United States “should continue to welcome immigrants” but did not explicitly disavow Lewis-Martin’s comments.
“To be very clear, and as Mayor Adams has said over and over again, of course this nation should continue to welcome immigrants — both those seeking asylum and those who are not,” the spokesperson said. “The United States will always do its part to be a country that takes in those seeking refuge from war, discrimination, and strife, but as we’ve stated repeatedly, we need a real decompression strategy at the border so that all communities across the country can do their part in providing the compassion and care New York City has provided to more than 118,000 asylum seekers since last year.”
The comments come weeks after Adams himself drew headlines for saying the migrant crisis — which has seen over 110,000 asylum seekers arrive in New York City seeking shelter, with the cost of caring for them bloating the city’s budget — will “destroy” New York City. Those comments were also praised by Republicans and lambasted by Democrats.
The Adams administration has sought to dissuade migrants from coming to New York, handing out flyers at the southern border telling migrants that the city is “full” and that adult asylum seekers are being removed from shelters after a month’s stay. Lewis-Martin echoed those sentiments on PIX 11.
“We still have to find a way to get them to understand we are no longer responsible for you, so you need to find other means,” said Lewis-Martin. “Go to another state.”
The administration is also seeking to suspend the decades-old right to shelter for homeless individuals, with the mayor saying he doesn’t “believe” the mandate applies to asylum seekers. Adams has said the right to shelter wasn’t designed for a massive influx like has been seen over the past year, which has rocketed the city’s shelter population to record levels.
The Legal Aid Society and former Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks are fighting the administration’s moves in court.
Lewis-Martin, who has worked for Adams since he was a State Senator, is often characterized as something of a shadow mayor. She has drawn considerable controversy for using her power to kill or delay street redesign projects, and has been a driving force in Adams’ embrace of his Christian faith and dismissal of the separation of church and state.