NYC comptroller says extra $30 million needed for immigrant work permits

By Eden Villalovas

New York City Comptroller Brad Lander pushed for federal aid to help fund work authorizations for asylum-seekers arriving rapidly in the city.

“The best thing we could do to get these costs under control is help people get those work authorizations and move out of shelter,” Lander, a Democrat, said, speaking to PIX11 News on Wednesday. “That’s what’s expensive.”

Thousands of people are being sheltered, and the city is projected to spend over $4 billion this year to provide shelter and services to immigrants. City officials have said the crisis is expected to create a $12 billion budget deficit. Lander said an extra $30 million could help around 30,000 families who are in shelter and need to apply for asylum and work authorization.

“The city estimates if we spend another $30 million, we could help every one of the about 30,000 families in shelter right now apply for asylum and work authorization that would dramatically reduce our costs,” Lander said.

City leaders like Democratic Mayor Eric Adams have pushed to expedite applications for employment authorization, and Gov. Kathy Hochul (D-NY) had been weighing whether to issue work permits to asylum-seekers directly.

“You file your asylum application first, that you can do for free — people don’t get that much help with it,” Lander said. “Your work authorization application costs $410. The federal government could waive that fee. Why are we charging people $410 and we haven’t even let them work yet?”

Lander blasted Adams for his remarks last week that the mayor doesn’t see an end to the immigrant crisis, adding it “will destroy New York City.” Lander said Adams’s statement fanned “flames of xenophobia by slashing services and blaming the newcomers” in an opinion piece for the Nation on Wednesday.

“Let’s address our budget gaps, but let’s not scapegoat new arrivals who have come here just like my family did as Jewish immigrants or from the Philippines or from India or wherever people came from,” Lander said.

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