New York braces for more asylum seekers as government costs mount
ALBANY — The influx of thousands of migrant workers into New York in recent months has been met with frustration by some local government officials who say the state and federal governments have provided inadequate assistance to local communities amid concerns the upstate region will soon experience a demand for increased services.
A fiscal impact projection, issued this week by New York City officials, pegged the cost of dealing with the influx of new immigrants at $1 billion.
The stream of migrants into the nation’s largest city has left the shelter system clogged and sparked a debate between New York City Mayor Eric Adams and some City Council members over funding to support the new arrivals.
Adams voiced frustration this week that council members are seeking free cell phones and subway ridership passes for the migrants “Everyday New Yorkers are not given free places to live,” Adams told reporters, before suggesting council members should return half of the $563 million in pork barrel funding they get to sprinkle to local civic groups in their districts to help the city government pay for the services going to the migrants.
Adams, a Democrat and former police officer, said the city has already spent more than $250 million so far this year to feed and house the asylum seekers who entered the United States this year by crossing the Texas/Mexico border.
One upstate leader, Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin, said New York’s sanctuary policies designed to protect undocumented immigrants from federal immigration enforcers have turned the state into a magnet for asylum applicants, with upstate communities now expected to see heightened demand for local public services.
McLaughlin also said he is concerned some of the new arrivals may be criminal predators, as they entered without having been fully screened by immigration officials.
“I don’t know a single person on the left or right that doesn’t support legal immigration,” McLaughlin, a Republican and former state lawmaker, said, contending some Democrats have staked out an extreme position by supporting policies he said amount to having open borders.
He also blamed the current flow of migrants into New York on the “pathetic ineptness” of the Biden administration to tackle the surge in illegal border crossings.
U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Saratoga County, said fighting to secure the borders will be a major focus when the GOP leadership team sets the agenda for the House beginning next month. Stefanik is a member of that team.
“Joe Biden’s open border policies have made every state a border state, and Far Left Albany Democrats’ radical agenda is exacerbating the impact of the Biden border crisis in New York,” Stefanik said.
Amnesty policies, Stefanik said, have fueled the migrant crisis while straining the resources of the border patrol and other law enforcement agencies.
The public safety threat as well as the smuggling of fentanyl, the congresswoman added, has been exacerbated by a New York law that blocks federal officers from accessing New York data which could help them determine if individuals they encounter have criminal records.
Meanwhile, hundreds of millions of dollars in federal relief to help communities across the nation deal with the surge in asylum seekers was tucked into federal legislation this week, according to Adams, who thanked Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-New York City, for helping to secure the funding. Some of that money is expected to be channeled to New York.
In Albany, Gov. Kathy Hochul said last month the state has launched new legal services grants intended to provide assistance to new immigrants dealing with immigration paperwork.
“By providing them with the legal tools and resources they need to thrive, New York State will continue to uplift those who are trying to build better lives for themselves and their families,” Hochul said.
Last week, with Hochul’s blessing, the trustees of the State University system approved a new policy granting in-state tuition eligibility for students from nations that have secured temporary protected status by the Department of Homeland Security.
In September, Hochul announced the formation of the state Institute for Immigration Integration Research & Policy, aimed at helping immigrants in the transition to becoming educated and employed. It is housed at a branch of SUNY, the Rockefeller Institute of Government.
Hochul noted this week the state has deployed 800 National Guard members to assist New York City with the influx of migrants. She also indicated she believes the state will have an “untenable situation” on its hands without federal support.
“I’m working with other governors who are affected by this to get the White House to understand that this is crying out for a federal response, and the change with Title 42 (a federal measure that allows border officers to expel migrants based on public health grounds) being lifted because of a court decision in a matter of days is going to create tremendous pressure on other states as well as our cities,” she said.
McLaughlin, though, argued both the Biden and Hochul administrations, by not addressing what he called inadequate border security, have taken postures that have increased the strain on taxpayer funded resources from the migrant crisis. He said Democrats who complained about a crackdown on illegal immigration have remained silent about border communities in Texas being flooded with asylum seekers.
“This is a typical woke Left response, where they are so supportive of something until it actually happens to them, and then they say, ‘Well, wait a minute. We didn’t really mean that. We just supported it in theory, but not in reality,'” McLaughlin said. “The chickens have come home to roost.”
An estimated 31,000 asylum seekers have entered New York in the past several months.