Borough President Vito Fossella and Councilmembers Joe Borelli, David Carr, and Kamillah Hanks announced Sunday that it will cost the city $580,090,000 to shelter the 23,800 asylum seekers who have come to New York City. This includes shelter stays, public school costs, basic health services, and immigration legal assistance for those who entered the city from April through early November. There will be an additional $16 million of fixed costs that the city will incur, and it is not guaranteed that any asylum seeker will be able to meet the requirements for granting of asylum.
In September, Borough President Fossella, along with the Councilmembers, penned a letter to the Independent Budget Office (IBO) of New York City to request a financial analysis on asylum seekers entering New York City. They said the model of handling this crisis is completely unsustainable citing that constant cuts are made to the current city budget. The letter reads:
“It is clear that New York City finds itself dealing with a challenge not of its own making, but nevertheless our first obligation is to our citizens and to understanding the budget implications of thousands of these individuals coming to New York City amid a potential budget crisis. This comes at a time when City Hall has ordered cuts to agency budgets, which obviously will have a negative impact on the delivery of services. In addition, there are some who predict a possible recession. Moreover, the stock market downturn will have a significant effect on the New York City Retirement system. In fact, Comptroller Brad Lander projects that poor investment returns will require the City to contribute an extra $6 billion to the New York City Retirement System (NYCERS). This cascade of budget challenges will have dramatic impacts on all New Yorkers.”
“We said then that this was a problem the people of Staten Island did not create. But somehow, it became a problem that the people of Staten Island, and by extension New York City, have to solve and pay for as of now,” said Borough President Fossella. “It was no surprise that when the numbers came in, that they were not low. There are priorities for taxpayer money -- to build a boardwalk, to build a park, to build roads. All that is established in a budgetary process. Taxpayer money pays for these things, and very often, we’re told, there’s no money. So, one question I would like to ask is where did this $580 million come from?”
He presented other options for the money to be spent:
“This invoice should be forwarded to the federal government to pick up the tab that they created. The federal government can step up and provide more people to review these cases so we can solve this problem faster and so this tab doesn’t grow at its present rate. For those of us who are more fiscally conservative, we would prefer to send a check. There are about 165,000 households on Staten Island. We would like to send a check for about $3,500 to every household. So, we ask the people, would you prefer to spend the $580 million on this situation or to send a check for $3,500 to every household on Staten Island?”
“This is money that could be used to keep our city retirees from losing their current health plan, people who have worked tirelessly for years paying their taxes with the dream of retiring one day,” said Minority Leader Joseph Borelli.
“Individuals cannot be allowed to continue to take advantage of our city’s generosity, of our absurd sanctuary city laws, our state’s right to shelter requirement and continue to run up the tab that could be going to Staten Islanders and other New Yorkers,” said Council Member David Carr. “The reality is we do have other needs in this borough that we are fighting to meet each and every day. This is just simply not sustainable, and it is not fair to our borough and our city.”
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