Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar introduces state legislative package to address New York city’s migrant influx


Our Bureau
South Queens, NY

In response to the unprecedented influx of migrants to New York City, Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar has introduced a package of bills that will ensure New York State does its part to help New York City manage one of the greatest humanitarian crises it has ever faced.

The Assemblywoman introduced A7992, which will pave the way for the State to coordinate a State-wide response to the asylum seeker crisis that enlists counties across the State. Specifically, the bill prohibits any municipality from refusing resettlement of asylum seekers, provided that the resettling municipality bears the cost of shelter. The bill comes in response to the ongoing legal battle between New York City and 30 counties in the State. To relieve financial and logistical challenges, the City has resettled some asylum seekers in other counties. The city has resettled less than 1% of asylum seekers in its custody, and continues to bear the full cost of shelter, yet 30 counties have taken executive action to prohibit resettlement based on specious arguments of public safety.

Assemblywoman Rajkumar’s bill is a clarification of existing law: resettlement prohibitions are in clear violation of the New York State Social Services Law, the New York State Human Rights Law, Title II of the Civil Rights Act, the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution, and the constitutional right to travel. New York City filed suit naming all 30 counties to overturn the prohibitions, resulting in a judgment that the city must file a separate suit against each county in their respective jurisdictions. The Assemblywoman’s bill will preclude a tortuous legal process that would reach a foregone conclusion. Most importantly, the bill will pave the way for the state to coordinate a state-wide response to the asylum seeker crisis that enlists counties across the State.

Assemblywoman Rajkumar has also introduced a second bill A7493, that will create a Statewide Coordinator of Asylum Seeker Services. This coordinator would lead a state response to the asylum seeker crisis, overseeing intake, resettlement, support services, health care, housing, education, and legal services for the new arrivals. The coordinator would ensure that migrants are equitably distributed throughout the State, relieving the pressure on New York City. The Coordinator would also lobby the federal government for legislation and policies to address the influx. The Coordinator would be jointly appointed by the Governor of New York State and the Mayor of New York City.

Last month, the assemblywoman led a city-wide coalition of 54 elected officials from all 5 boroughs to call on President Biden to support New York. One of the coalition’s 4 requests was that the President declare a State of Emergency for New York State, but that request has gone unanswered.

Assembly woman Rajkumar said, “It is time for New York State to lead a Statewide response as New York City faces one of the greatest humanitarian crises in its history. My legislative package sets up this Statewide response. The new State Coordinator of Asylum Seeker Services will bring the State’s leadership and organization to help manage the City’s migrant influx. My bill preventing counties from refusing migrants meets this moment; the State must enlist all its counties to help New York City shelter migrants, because the strength of our entire State depends on New York City continuing to be a strong economic engine.”

New York City has welcomed over 100,000 asylum seekers since April 2022. Today, New York City is providing shelter to over 50,000 asylum seekers, at a cost of over $1 billion, and projected to be $12 billion by June 2025. In response, the State budgeted $1 billion over two years to reimburse the City. The federal government provided a grant of $100 million—the equivalent of 13 days’ worth of expenses to shelter migrants.

The asylum seekers have a right to legally remain in the country while applying for asylum, and New York City is legally obligated to provide shelter under a consent decree in the case of Callahan v. Carey. Compounding the issue further is that asylum seekers cannot legally work for a minimum of six months.

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