New York City Comptroller Brad Lander is calling on the federal government to “do more” and help speed up work authorizations for illegal immigrants by waiving application fees.
Speaking to PIX11 News on Sept. 13, Mr. Lander, a Democrat, noted the surge in immigrants crossing the southern border and locating to New York—amid other things—is expected to create a $12 billion budget deficit as the city struggles to keep up with the influx.
Additionally, the city is expected to spend over $4 billion this year alone to provide shelter and services to those immigrants.
His comments come after Mayor Eric Adams last week told a small press conference in Manhattan that the ongoing immigration crisis will “destroy New York City” and said he does not see an end to the problem in the Big Apple.
Days later, Mr. Adams announced potential budget cuts of at least 5 percent across all city agencies as part of efforts to balance the city’s budget, as required by law.
The mayor cited the “convergence of circumstances threatening New York City’s financial stability” for the cuts and said the city has “been forced to bear most costs of the asylum-seeker humanitarian crisis” at a time of slowing revenue growth.
However, Mr. Lander stressed Wednesday that immigrants should not be used as “scapegoats” for budget shortfalls in New York, noting how city workers were previously given “big raises” and COVID-19 stimulus funding is now coming to an end, meaning the city now needs to “roll up its sleeves” and address the budget gaps.
‘Let’s Not Scapegoat New Arrivals’
“Two-thirds of our budget gaps don’t have anything to do with asylum seekers,” Mr. Lander said. “Let’s address our budget gaps, but let’s not scapegoat new arrivals who have come here just like my family did as Jewish immigrants or from the Philippines or from India or wherever people came from,” he said.
“The best thing we can do to get these costs under control is help people get those work authorizations and move out of shelter, that’s what’s expensive,” he continued.
Mr. Lander said around $30 million could help roughly 30,000 families currently in shelter apply for asylum and work authorization which in turn would dramatically reduce the city’s costs.
“You file your asylum application first, that you can do for free but people don’t get that much help with it,” Mr. Lander said. “Your work authorization application costs $410. The federal government could waive that fee. Why are we charging people $410 and we haven’t even let them work yet?” he continued.
Hochul Considering Granting State-Level Work Permits
The city comptroller concluded that while he was grateful for what the federal government has so far done to help New York amid a surge in immigrants, more coordination and funding from Washington is needed.
His comments come just weeks after New York Gov. Kathy Hochul urged President Joe Biden to direct the federal government and help provide the sanctuary state with housing, support, and work authorization for illegal immigrants.
In an Aug. 24 letter to President Biden, Ms. Hochul argued expedited work authorizations for illegal immigrants would allow them to “resettle in communities more quickly.”
Roughly 100,000 have arrived in New York City over the past year, prompting Ms. Hochul’s administration to allocate $1.5 billion in state aid to address the influx of illegal immigrants.
On Tuesday, Ms. Hochul said the state is currently weighing up granting immigrants state-level work permits, effectively circumventing federal law, and meaning they will not have to wait 180 days after applying for asylum to receive a work permit.
It is not yet clear exactly how the program would work.
“I spoke about this at the White House,” Ms. Hochul told a press conference. “I said, I may do something at the state level, I may be having to do this. So we’re working on language right now. I have language, I want to talk to the leaders about what that would look like and the timing, whether it’s now or in session,” she said.
From The Epoch Times