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Asylum seeker died by suicide in New York City homeless shelter, mayor says

NEW YORK — A woman seeking asylum died by suicide in a New York City homeless shelter, Mayor Eric Adams said Monday.

The mayor’s announcement comes as the city struggles to find placement for the influx of migrants coming to the city.

“The thousands of asylum seekers we have seen arrive in our city came to this country seeking a better life. Sadly though, yesterday, an asylum seeker in one of our facilities took her own life,” Adams said in a statement. “Our hearts break for this young woman and any loved ones she may have, and we, as a city mourn her. This tragedy is a reminder that we have an obligation to do everything in our power to help those in need.”

Adams defended the city’s efforts to shelter thousands of migrants who have come to the city in recent months, and again blasted Texas Gov. Greg Abbott for sending buses of asylum seekers to the city. On Sunday, Adams said the city is considering suing Texas over sending migrants unannounced to New York.

“This wasn’t a failure,” he told reporters at an unrelated press conference in Brooklyn when asked if the death represents a failure by the city.

“A woman, I believe, was traumatized by this whole experience. This is not a failure of those men and women, those city employees who have stayed up late at night, been at the bus station feeding, navigating. No, it’s not a failure. City employees are not failures — they’re hardworking civil servants.”

But he went on to blame Abbott for his practice of putting immigrants who have crossed the southern border on buses to New York, some against their will.

“The failure was the governors that sent people on a multi-day bus ride without proper food, without medical care, without basic necessities, telling them they had to be treated in this inhumane way,” Adam’s said. “We didn’t fail in this city. This city is helping people. And again, my heart goes out to that family.”

Adams said the woman was a mother, but said he was legally barred from disclosing any other details.

More than 11,000 migrants, mostly from Central and South America, have entered city homeless shelters since May, including 2,500 on buses chartered by Abbott.

The city is scrambling for more space, after opening 23 emergency shelters. It has at least twice violated it’s right to shelter law by failing to give people beds in a timely fashion.

Adams is now eyeing the use of cruise ships to house homeless asylum seekers, he said in an interview Sunday.

On Monday, he declined to give more details on the cruise ship plan, but said: “We’re not going to leave any stone unturned.”

The mayor of El Paso has also begun sending buses of migrants to New York. But Adams said that unlike Abbott, who has refused to coordinate with the city on the arrival of buses, the El Paso mayor is keeping City Hall informed.

“He was willing to sit down and share what his concerns are and what our concerns are and figure out a humane way to coordinate,” Adams said.

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