Hundreds of workers march to Foley Square in New York City to demand stronger worker protections and a full pathway to citizenship for immigrants on May 1, 2022. (Shutterstock)
New York, NY – In a letter sent to President Joseph R. Biden and FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell earlier this week, organized by New York City Comptroller Brad Lander and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, a majority of New York City elected officials urged the federal government to accelerate funding to municipalities to support arriving asylum seekers. The elected officials pressed for the City of New York to get its due share of the $800 million in assistance for municipalities allocated by Congress to FEMA in December, under the leadership of Senate Majority Leader Schumer, as well as other categorical grants.
The elected officials write:
“The right to flee persecution, and to seek asylum in another country, is a human right guaranteed under both international and U.S. law. Under those laws, guaranteeing that right is an obligation of the federal government. While New York City, as a city of immigrants that has thrived on the contributions of newcomers for more than 400 years, is proud to play a significant role in helping our nation meet that obligation, the costs of meeting this national obligation should be borne by the federal government.”
The letter also urged the federal government to move quickly to accelerate work authorization for recent arrivals, noting the significant backlogs in immigration courts that may mean years before those arriving in recent months can receive work permits.
Many of the signatories have repeatedly called for increased state and federal support in recent months. Comptroller Lander and Public Advocate Williams spoke with Senator Schumer about accelerating resources and work authorization for asylum seekers in October 2022. As part of the budget agreement in December, Senator Schumer negotiated changes to the structure of FEMA’s Emergency Food and Shelter Program to better enable cities like New York City to access these funds.
The letter, signed by New York City Comptroller Brad Lander, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, Borough Presidents Vanessa Gibson, Mark Levine, and Antonio Reynoso, and twenty-eight members of the City Council, is available here.