Washington, DC – The escalating comments from New York City mayor Eric Adams about the strains of new immigrant arrivals on the city has sparked a renewed focus on the related policy and political dynamics and ways forward (see the excellent Greg Sargent column excerpted at bottom for more).
According to Vanessa Cárdenas, America’s Voice Executive Director:
“Let’s get two things out of the way: immigrants and asylum seekers don’t want handouts or special treatment – they want to work and support themselves. And two, NYC, the wealthiest city in the world, and one built on the backs of immigrants, can live up to its promise.
Yes, we are facing a challenge brought to us by decades of Republican obstruction and the realities of global migration and climate change, but our approach shouldn’t be panic or division, but rather a solution oriented approach. That means Congress needs to deliver on the supplemental funding request by the Biden Administration to aid cities and states; and the Biden administration needs to expand the use of TPS and issue work permits as many business and labor leaders, and many other experts, advocates, and elected officials are calling for.
Ultimately, though, what is needed is a complete overhaul of our outdated immigration system and only Congress can do that. Republicans will take this moment to run with their cynical efforts to scapegoat immigrants, but anyone who follows this issue knows that they offer no solutions, just extreme rhetoric, relentless obstruction, and cruel policies that worsen the status quo.”
“If worry about GOP attacks is a motivator, it shouldn’t be. Republicans are using Adams to argue that even Democrats are slamming Biden’s failure to secure the border. But Adams is clear-eyed about those Republicans, pointing out that they have zero interest in making the processing of migrants easier or more rational by, say, supporting congressional immigration reform.
Which brings us to the deeper dispute here. The Republican “solution” for New York is to keep asylum seekers out of the country entirely by forcing them to await hearings in Mexico. But that’s not a solution; during Donald Trump’s presidency, it produced humanitarian catastrophe. The better answer: Create more lawful pathways for migrants to come from afar — which Biden is already doing to great effect — while rationalizing the process of applying at the border so it works more efficiently and humanely.
If Biden expands TPS, mitigating New York’s mess, it could align him with Adams while hopefully demonstrating that asylum seekers can be effectively incorporated into our economies and communities. This might counter GOP efforts to divide Democrats and to cast migration as fundamentally unmanageable under Democratic leadership.
To be clear, without Congress fixing the immigration system, the asylum process will remain a brutal problem with no easy answers — substantive or political. Biden’s best approach is to get the policy right where possible and let the political argument flow from that.”
- Link to post-event press release with audio recording of TPS call with labor leaders and experts (August 30, 2023)
- FWD.us memo, “Responding to the Increase of Asylum Seekers and Vulnerable Migrants in New York City & U.S. Cities,” August 2023