Sharing responsibility for migrants
New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul gathered Tuesday with the city and state comptrollers at the annual state Financial Control Board meeting to paint a picture of a resilient city that’s weathered economic shocks but remained far away from the sort of fiscal spiraling that characterized earlier eras. Not present in person but heavily represented in spirit were the tens of thousands of asylum seekers in the city’s care, for whom costs are projected to run into the multiple billions per year.
While there might be some quibbles about the exact level of spending and the options to minimize that expenditure — moving people more quickly to accommodations less hideously expensive than hotels and pushing to get them faster work authorization, for example — no matter how you slice it, the city budget was not designed to nor can it practically accommodate these billions in spending. Future FCB meetings might not be as chipper.
Much more federal financial assistance will help, but there is a logistical issue here about space, or more specifically, the lack of it. Could New York City keep finding fields, hangars, warehouses and vacant psychiatric hospital grounds to stuff migrants? Sure, it probably could for a while. But this isn’t the ideal solution for anyone, not the city, the state, nor the migrants themselves, who probably came to NYC for the promise of housing and opportunity, not to bunk in a tent in a field.
The only way forward is for the responsibility to be spread around; the city can’t and shouldn’t be left on its own, and so it’s incumbent on Hochul to help build out a system in which areas outside the five boroughs are both equally appealing and committed to receiving migrants as a burgeoning workforce, a win-win.
In fact, this should happen around the country, which puts the onus squarely on President Joe Biden to both finance and provide logistical support for this endeavor, as opposed to the current approach of largely trying to pretend it’s not happening and New York City will be fine.
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