Fifty-four elected officials in New York City have sent a letter to President Joe Biden to address the influx of illegal immigrants in the city, asking him to declare a federal state of emergency so that the illegal immigrants can legally work in the country.
“We are elected officials from New York City requesting your help. Our City is experiencing an unprecedented migrant influx, with a surge of asylum seekers arriving here in numbers never seen before in history. Our City is at a breaking point,” wrote New York City Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar.
“We take pride in New York being a beacon of hope for immigrants, but the influx of migrants is so great that the City is running out of resources. New York City is being forced to reduce services for its people.”
Since Spring of 2022, buses of illegal immigrants, sent from the southern border in Texas, have arrived regularly in the city. Many are asylum seekers from Venezuela escaping the socialist country’s economic collapse, and New York elected officials have welcomed them.
While the self-declared “sanctuary city” already had difficulties housing its 60,000-plus homeless population, officials set about finding housing for tens of thousands of asylum seekers.
By October 2022, New York City Mayor Eric Adams declared a state of emergency in the city. According to his office, the illegal immigrant influx could nearly double the number of people the already overtaxed shelter system needed to serve, and cost $1 billion within a fiscal year.
“We need help, and we need it now,” Mr. Adams said. “New York City is doing our part, and now others must step up and join us.”
Last week, the city announced it would set up a shelter for 1,000 illegal immigrants in the parking lot of a state psychiatric hospital. The special use case was made possible by the state of emergency, which allows for use of additional resources without additional red tape.
A federal state of emergency would allow federal agencies to work with and fund the housing and services for the illegal immigrants.
“The federal government could then provide migrants with assistance such as shelter, food relief, healthcare, legal aid, and transportation,” Ms. Rajkumar wrote in her letter.
The 54 Democrat lawmakers also requested that the Biden administration allow the illegal immigrants to work in the country.
“The federal government must expedite the issuance of Employment Authorization Documents. It is a common sense and bi-partisan fix. Asylum seekers are arriving eager to work, and our Nation has 10 million job openings with 3.5 million fewer people in the workforce than projected pre-pandemic,” the letter reads. “We ask that the White House take executive actions to expedite work authorization, such as classifying asylum seekers as refugees, expanding Temporary Protected Status, increasing access to humanitarian parole, and surging the number of officers processing asylum claims.”
The letter makes no reference to curbing the number of illegal immigrants entering the country or city, nor does it differentiate between legal and illegal immigrants. It instead makes requests that the federal government make it simpler for them to cross the southern border illegally, and to relocate them in all parts of the country, while providing additional funding for New York City.
The city has already received $104.6 million through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which the lawmakers say equates to just 13 days of relief.
The city expects to have spent $4.3 billion by June 2024.
“While we welcome immigrants to our City, the current unstructured state of immigration policy and response needs to end. There needs to be a system of rules in place to manage the migrant crisis,” the letter reads. “That is why we are pleading for the White House to step in a take leadership over the influx of asylum seekers.”
“We believe that with your leadership, we can turn this crisis into opportunity and that this can become one of history’s greatest success stories.”
The city is currently sheltering about 52,000 illegal immigrants, and officials say more continue to arrive by the week.
As a “sanctuary” city, New York is one of several across the country now that have declared it will not cooperate with federal authorities to arrest and deport illegal immigrants.
The city’s “right to shelter” law mandates that homeless families must be given a bed the same day, and adults within a day. As the city runs out of beds, it is scrambling to create temporary shelter spaces wherever possible, be it a hospital parking lot, airplane hangars, parks, or a racetrack.
Most of these ideas have been met with strong pushback from communities. City residents, who are already feeling the housing crunch and are unable to find permanent housing of their own, have been shocked by city plans to turn their gyms, schools, and parks into housing for the illegal immigrants.
The city had plans to further bus illegal immigrants north of the city, but local officials in those areas quickly pushed back. For the most part, the city is attempting to find the necessary amount of shelter with city resources. If the numbers continue to increase, exacerbating the issue and prompting federal intervention, the trend could be unlikely to reverse.