Gov. Kathy Hochul contacts or speaks with the White House and President Joe Biden's administration every day, she said Tuesday, as she and other state leaders have fought for over a year for the federal government to expedite working permits for asylum seekers in New York who hail from the southern border.
Their pleas continue to go unanswered.
At a housing event in Montgomery County on Tuesday, the governor said federal officials have directed U.S. General Service Administration staff to find surplus properties that can be used to house asylum seekers.
More than 100,000 people from the southern border have come to the state seeking asylum — with most from Venezuela, said Hochul, who awaits an update.
"I've been checking in every day to find out how that is going because that can be an answer as well," the governor told reporters Tuesday.
Dozens of asylum seekers are sleeping on New York City streets as hotels, housing centers and shelters have swelled to the brim. Mayor Eric Adams has sent hundreds of people to unsuspecting and unprepared upstate communities.
Securing a federal waiver to grant migrants work permits is the No. 1 priority for state leaders, Hochul said.
The governor regularly receives calls from employers statewide requesting migrants be relocated to their community to help fill thousands of open jobs in New York farms, restaurants, construction and the hospitality industry.
"It'll change the whole dynamic [for] employers from here in the Mohawk Valley to the city, to the North Country and everywhere in between," she added.
A recent New York Times report shows the city contracted with company DocGo for $432 million, and alleges the company has given migrants false documents and promises of work and a better life if they accept an offer to be transported outside the five boroughs.
When asked about DocGo on Tuesday, Hochul said she's confident Adams is on top of ensuring people receive the services that are being paid for, and the city has been housing and transporting migrants for several months.
"...That company has been managing that in the city, from what I understand, fairly successfully, but this is something I'm sure the mayor is focusing on as well," the governor said.
Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara wants state Attorney General's Letitia James' Office to investigate, and said he's on the phone with state attorney general staff daily. Adams' office is contacting hotels and other businesses in communities looking for places to bus asylum seekers in other parts of the state.
"We're looking for resources, and we're pointing to the New York City mayor," Santabarbara said Tuesday. "What are some of the resources you're going to provide? We haven't heard anything back. It's been complete silence, unfortunately."
Hochul and Adams first traveled to Washington, D.C., more than a year ago to request expedited working papers for migrants instead of waiting the typically required 180-day waiting period after a person applies for asylum. Adams again met with members of the state's congressional delegation in Washington last week pushing for more funding and resources to provide necessary housing, food and services.
"That is the challenge we're facing," the governor said. "If we can get a 30-day work authorization... that would change everything. That's what we're fighting for. And we're hopefully making some progress, I can't stand here at this time and say it's successful, but they absolutely know that is what the governor of New York wants."
The latest $229 billion budget included $1 billion to help New York City cover housing costs for asylum seekers. Nearly 2,000 members of the state National Guard are working in migrant housing centers in the city, helping to buy baby food, build cribs, provide security and more.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie is leaning on the federal government, and will not say what steps the state Legislature should take to help the migrant issue, if any.
He says state officials will continue to put pressure on federal officials to take action.
"We really need help from the federal government," Heastie said.