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Mayor Eric Adams tours migrant shelter in Ecuador, warns those fleeing that more challenges await in New York City

Mayor Eric Adams tours migrant shelters in Ecuador
Mayor Eric Adams tours migrant shelters in Ecuador 02:06

NEW YORK -- Mayor Eric Adams was in Ecuador on Friday to tour migrant shelters and tell those fleeing poverty and political unrest that it won't be easy to make it in New York City

It was the yin and the yang of Adams' trip south of the border: images of a smiling Adams taking selfies with the children of asylum seekers, and images of a grim Adams touring migrant shelters. 

"We want to make sure that people who come to New York City know what to expect, and they have the opportunity for a safe and dignified migration, one that can lead to the American dream. As I say over and over again, not an American nightmare," said Adams. 

The mayor toured two migrant centers where people prepare for the arduous trek across the border. He was honest about the ability of New York City to welcome them in a media push explaining the shelters are full and many sleep on cots in congregate shelters. 

During the media briefing, CBS New York's political reporter Marcia Kramer asked the mayor, "When you look into their eyes and you see the desire to have the American dream and to flee the poverty ... is it hard for you to tell them they shouldn't come to New York because we don't have the facilities?" 

The mayor said his problems are two-fold: helping asylum seekers and helping New Yorkers experiencing poverty. 

"What tears my heart apart, what motivated me to come here is that when I look at the circumstances that are facing the migrant and asylum seekers who are in New York and everyday struggling New Yorkers, and it is not our desire to pit the groups against each other as we stabilize the situation," said Adams. 

The mayor said the numbers coming to New York now are unsustainable. 

"Marcia, we used to get on the average during the challenging time approximately 300 migrants a day. We're now seeing in areas of 600 to 800 a day," said Adams. 

Next, Adams will go to Colombia and the Darien Pass, a dangerous jungle leading from Colombia to Panama that migrants use on the way to the U.S. border. 

Thursday, he met with Mexican leaders in hopes of reversing course on the problem. 

The mayor's trip comes as the White House is building a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border.

On Thursday, President Biden waived 26 laws now allowing a section of the border wall to be built. CBS News learned it's comprised of 18-foot high steel panels that will be constructed near the Rio Grande in Texas. 

Mr. Biden said he didn't want to build a wall, but he has no choice because of a law Congress passed in 2019. 

"They have to use the money for what it was appropriated, I can't stop that," he said. 

Asked whether he believes the wall works, the president replied, "No."

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