The migrant crisis is draining our limited resources, and there is no end in sight.
As thousands flood across our border and find their way to New York, our state and federal politicians are doing their best to pretend this crisis isn’t happening. Gov. Hochul is asleep at the wheel. Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand were willing to throw money at the problem, but even that has dried up.
They offer no long-term solution other than legalizing all 11 million illegal immigrants.
Since last spring, when the Texas and Florida governors began busing migrants to New York City, we have received about 55,000. This means we’ve taken on more migrants than the population of Middle Village, which I represent. But more come every day.
While a New Yorker’s love is infinite, our money and infrastructure are finite. The city expects to spend $4.3 billion on migrants in only two fiscal years, which is $100 million more than the estimate from just a few weeks ago.
At the same time, the mayor moved municipal retirees to Medicare Advantage as a cost-saving measure, and city agencies are facing a 4% budget cut.
About 32,600 migrants are now in 100 emergency shelters. In just a few weeks, our shelters took on an additional 5,000 migrants and had to use 16 more hotels to house them. About $300 a day is spent per person in an emergency shelter.
The accommodations are better than what former service members receive at the veterans shelter on Borden Avenue. City immigration courts are backlogged, with more than 124,000 cases pending. New York City’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement field office is booked through October 2033 for migrant appointments.
It will be years before asylum seekers see a judge. The current level of migration into our city and the resources it takes to care for them are unsustainable.
No other nation in the world allows just anyone to show up and gain access to all their country’s resources.
Targeted immigration based on labor-market needs would allow for a more effective melting pot and alleviate some labor shortages, such as nurses and other health-care workers. Instead, we have supposed “asylum seekers,” even though reality says the vast majority of migrants are single men looking for work.
Biden is MIA
Unfortunately, the Biden administration is MIA. Not only are Republican governors sending migrants to New York City, but even the Democratic Colorado governor, Jared Polis, sent us migrants until Mayor Adams intervened. The Biden administration should embrace the “Remain in Mexico” policy, which was successful during the Trump administration.
Inexplicably, Hochul did not mention the migrant crisis in her State of the State address. Although she pledged $1 billion in her budget, money is not enough, nor is this amount guaranteed. The percentage of state and federal funds housing the homeless is decreasing while the city’s share is increasing.
As the crisis continues, states will take advantage of New York’s sanctuary status and right-to-shelter laws. Gillibrand’s only idea is to transfer New York City’s migrant problem to the rest of the state. After upstate leaders pushed back, she stopped talking about the idea.
Everyone knows the status quo is not working, yet we often hear the same old idea — throw more tax dollars at the problem.
When it comes to migrants, we don’t have enough money, and even if we did, we would still have tens of thousands of idle individuals, primarily single men, trying to survive illegally in our country.
Before any other policy gets implemented, we must get control who enters our country. We need our politicians to act like leaders, acknowledge reality and fix the southern border now.
Robert Holden is a Democratic New York City councilmember representing District 30 in Queens.
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