Democrat New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and New York City Mayor Eric Adams were in lockstep Monday when they called on the Biden administration and Washington officials to expedite work authorization for migrants and provide other immigration protections while blaming Republicans for sowing “chaos and dysfunction.”
“Republicans, as we know, have blocked all attempts at fixing our broken immigration system, intentionally causing chaos and dysfunction,” Adams said at a joint press conference. “We cannot believe all of a sudden that’s going to change with the Republican controlled Congress. If we don’t get it done through a presidential action, we are going to slow down the progress we need.”
“So we’re calling on the White House, the United States Department of Homeland Security, to ensure our newest Americans can work lawfully and build stable lives for themselves in our country,” Adams said. “Instead of putting the responsibility squarely on the cities in general, and specifically in New York City, we must have the responsibility for care to have the national decompression strategy that is deserving of this crisis we are facing, must help our fellow arrivals to be a participant in the American dream.”
The 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act arguably passes the buck to Congress to act on work authorization and other protections for asylum seekers, but Adams and Hochul seemingly suggested President Biden could step in during the current crisis through an executive order. Doing so, officials argued at the press conference, would allow migrants to start paying into the tax system, allowing the state to, in turn, better supply services to its current population of nearly 20 million.
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“Right now, we are denying opportunity by refusing to let them work legally,” Adams said. “It is creating an underground market where individuals could be exploited, unable to pay into our tax base, working long and difficult and dangerous jobs because they are living in the shadow of the American dream and not out front. It increases the risk that they can be abused.”
Adams called on the White House to re-designate and extend temporary protective status. The program currently exists for asylum seekers from 16 countries including Venezuela, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Sudan, South Sudan, Cameroon, Ukraine and Afghanistan.
He also called on the federal government to expand and extend access to humanitarian parole for asylum seekers already in the United States and who cross the border, as well as increase the number of U.S. citizens employed as immigration office personnel to process asylum claims.
Hochul said that there are more than 5,000 farm jobs, 5,000 food service jobs, and 4,000 openings for janitors, cleaners, and housekeepers across the state that migrants could help fill.
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Last week, New York City received more than 5,800 additional migrants, up from the more than 4,200 who arrived the week before, Adams said.
The mayor thanked Democrats Rep. Jerry Nadler and Sen. Chuck Schumer for advocating for the city in the federal omnibus bill, that provided $800 million for cities dealing with the migrant crisis, but he lamented that only $30 million was allocated to address the Big Apple’s migrant surge.
“New York City is the number one destination for asylum seekers who have been released from federal custody, who are awaiting their next steps in the process,” Hochul said.
“More than anything, we need changes to the work authorization policies that will let these individuals not have to wait months and possibly years for that legal status. But let’s get it in an expedited basis. Right now, you have to wait 180 days after you file for your legal asylum status. That is the big unknown. People come here. They’re desperate. They’re trying to figure out how to just get on their feet,” Hochul added.
Hochul noted the state legislature approved at least $1 billion in funding for New York City to address the influx of asylum seekers through housing and legal and supportive services.
More than 1,500 members of the National Guard were deployed to address the migrant surge. The governor said the state was looking at airport hangars, such as John F. Kennedy International Airport’s Floyd Bennett Field, to potentially house migrants.
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