NYC’s Controversial Program: Migrants Get Cash, Locals Get Angry

Hamara /
Hamara /

New York City officials are back at their controversial antics, ramping up a program that hands out cash-loaded debit cards to migrant families lounging in taxpayer-funded hotels across the Big Apple. Because who needs fiscal responsibility?

This comes after it was revealed that households in the city are shelling out a cool $352 to roll out the red carpet for undocumented immigrants. And if you thought that was extravagant, hold onto your wallets—some hotel contracts are downright ludicrous. Take the Row NYC Hotel, for instance, which struck a deal with the city for a mind-blowing $5.13 million a month. They’ve ditched regular guests to play host exclusively to undocumented immigrants.

The Adams administration, never one to shy away from spending, plans to dish out another round of these magic money cards to over 7,300 migrants in the next six months, all for the low price of $2.6 million. This latest stunt is a massive leap from a pilot program earlier this year that only gave cards to around 3,000 migrants.

The Health and Human Services’ Deputy Mayor is a strong advocate for the program, arguing that it empowers these families to manage their own finances with taxpayer-funded debit cards, claiming it gives them autonomy over their choices for themselves and their children.

“They can buy from local shops, support small businesses, and manage their own resources,” she said as if these families were just waiting for a debit card to achieve the American Dream.

With a straight face, Mayor Eric Adams called the program a “cost savings measure” that temporarily replaces the old system of non-perishable food boxes for these hotel-staying families.

This program is a lovely partnership between the Adams administration and Mobility Capital Finance. It promises to help migrants with food, baby supplies, and other essentials. At the same time, they twiddle their thumbs, waiting for work authorization from the federal government.

Under this generous plan, a family of four with young kids can rake in up to $350 a week, or about $18,200 a year, just for being here. Not bad, right?

But not everyone’s clapping. Critics like New York Council member Joseph Borelli slammed the debit cards as “fundamentally unfair” to the city’s working poor who get zilch from the city. Borelli and his fellow Republicans argue that the city’s right-to-shelter law, along with its “sanctuary” policies, are turning NYC into a magnet for migrants.

With over 183,000 asylum seekers arriving in the past year amid a historic immigration surge, the city’s already blown over $1 billion on this issue and expects to hit the $10 billion mark in coming years. Yet, officials claim the cards are a bargain, costing about half as much as delivering food boxes and allegedly saving the city $598,000 so far, with a projected $4 million in savings by year’s end.

Unsurprisingly, a group of Congressional Republicans is not amused. Reps. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., Barry Moore, R-Ala., and Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., have questioned whether federal funds are being squandered on these cards, how the city decides who gets the money, and if they’re even tracking the spending.

GOP lawmakers also pointed out that the $350 weekly allowance for migrants is way more than the average $291 monthly benefit low-income, elderly, and disabled U.S. citizens get through SNAP. These GOP lawmakers didn’t hold back, criticizing Adams for the city’s “sanctuary” status and policies that supposedly invite “illegal immigrants” to flood New York City.

Meanwhile, New York City officials continue lavishly spending on cash-loaded debit cards and luxury hotel stays for undocumented immigrants. Local businesses and taxpayers are left footing the bill and wondering when their own needs will finally get the same level of attention. Because in the Big Apple, it seems like everyone’s welcome—except, perhaps, the hardworking residents who actually pay the bills.

So, here we go again—New York City doubling down on a program that keeps the debate raging and the dollars flowing.