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New York proposes $2.4b to care for new migrants

By BELINDA ROBINSON in New York | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2024-01-19 10:53

New York Governor Kathy Hochul has proposed that $2.4 billion in her $233 billion state budget be used to help New York City manage an estimated 70,000 migrants whose care has strained finances and overwhelmed homeless shelters.

The funds would be directed toward the city, as it has become the epicenter of the issue in the state after it was swamped by migrants who have mainly come from the US southern border illegally. But the cash also would be allocated to the rest of the state wherever it's needed.

Hochul said: "We must support the city of New York in this moment."

Both the governor and New York Mayor Eric Adams have had to allocate a large chunk of their financial resources and planning toward caring for and housing the asylum seekers.

Starting on Jan 16, Adams also implemented a strict curfew at four migrant shelters from 11 pm to 6 am.

It came after local residents reported that some shelter residents had engaged in petty crime, panhandling and shoplifting. Other asylum seekers reportedly went door to door seeking work or clothes.

The curfew has been enforced at the Lincoln shelter on 110th Street in Manhattan, the Stockton Street shelter in Brooklyn, the JFK respite center in Queens and another on 35th Street in Astoria, Queens.

New York City Emergency Management Commissioner Zach Iscol told CBS News:

"Part of it is just sort of to help us better manage things at the site. Part of it is community feedback."

Iscol said that the mayor may expand the curfew to another 200 shelters to keep order.

Hochul unveiled the budget on Jan 16 for the fiscal year that begins April 1. The budget aims to close a $4.3 billion deficit.

In November, Adams said that libraries would have to close on Sundays; police and firefighters' ranks would have had to be trimmed; and funding for some community schools could be halted.

However, this week the mayor reversed course, saying that some of the cuts will no longer be necessary, as the city has been able to reduce estimates of how much it will spend by roughly $1.7 billion over two fiscal years.

The Adams administration had previously estimated that the migrant crisis would cost $12 billion. But it now expects to spend $10.6 billion up to 2025.

Savings were made due to a new rule that migrants must leave homeless shelters after 30 or 60 days.

The mayor has repeatedly said that the added cost already has cut into essential services.

Adams faces a $7.1 billion deficit. He will continue to negotiate with the City Council over a projected $109 billion budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

Under Hochul's plan, the proposed funding will be spent to pay for 3,000 beds at shelters at Floyd Bennett Field, Randalls Island and Creedmor Psychiatric Center in Queens.

It also will cover legal services, expenses related to the deployment of the National Guard, and health services and programs to relocate migrants to other parts of the state.

Hochul said in a statement: "We're doing this not just because it's the right thing to do for the migrants and for the city of New York. We also know that companies won't do business in New York if there are thousands of people sleeping on the streets or the quality of life is dramatically impacted because the city is forced to cut essential services."

The influx of tens of thousands of migrants to the Big Apple was partly engineered by some Republican governors located near border states.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott bused in thousands of migrants to the city to share the burden on the Southern border.

Asylum seekers continue to arrive in New York daily. Both Adams and Hochul, who are Democrats, have urged the federal government and Democratic President Joe Biden to do more to help fix the border crisis.

If not, New York's Democratic lawmakers have hinted that they may have to raise state income taxes, although Hochul has ruled that out.

Despite the urgency of the migrant crisis, the immigration system is backed up with a record 3 million cases, The Associated Press reported.

The backlog does not just include the new influx of migrants but those who have been in the United States for decades.

The number of people awaiting their time in front of a judge is triple what it was in 2019, according to Syracuse University's Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse.

Many are claiming asylum in the US while saying that they will be persecuted or killed if they return home.

The cases of around 261,000 migrants who are facing removal proceedings in Miami also are on hold.

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