NYC’s mayor giving debit cards to migrants a ‘clear incentive’: council member

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New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ new program to give prepaid debit cards to migrants in the city risks incentivizing more people to settle in the city despite the mayor’s claim the city is full, a New York council member argued.

“Regardless of our rhetoric about how ‘full’ the city has become, if we’re handing out free money it’s a clear incentive,” Council Member Vickie Paladino told Fox News Digital. “We hear it from many of the migrants themselves — they’re coming here because they know New York will give them welfare. It’s as simple as that. And that is absolutely the opposite message we should be sending now.”

Paladino’s comments come after Adams unveiled the new program Tuesday, a $53 million plan that will see migrants in the city receive prepaid debit cards for items such as food and baby supplies.

NEW YORK CITY BEGINS GIVING ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS PREPAID DEBIT CARDS AS PART OF $53 MILLION PILOT PROGRAM

New York City Mayor Eric Adams (Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

According to a report from the New York Post, a family with two parents and kids under five can receive $350 per week with the debit cards, which will be replenished weekly.

The city will first run a pilot version of the program, giving the cards to about 460 of the over 64,000 migrants in the city’s care, according to the report.

The program comes despite Adams’ own admission that the city cannot take on any more migrants, arguing as early as July of last year that there was “no more room in this city” for continued migrant settlement, according to a report from Bloomberg.

But the new program flies in the face of that claim, Paladino argued, noting that even migrants already in the city will face the negative consequences of the continued flow.

ADAMS DEFENDS PREPAID MIGRANT CARDS, PART OF $53M NYC PILOT PROGRAM: ‘NOT GIVING PEOPLE AMERICAN EXPRESS’

Paladino also pointed to rising crime the city’s residents have seen as migrants have flooded the city, declaring that her constituents “are sick of the invasion.”

“In districts like mine, which spans both low-income working-class neighborhoods to some of the wealthiest communities in NYC, migrant crime is a top concern for everyone,” Paladino said. “Whether it’s scooter bandits snatching purses in front of a deli or an upscale home getting broken into, we’re seeing a massive increase in crimes attributable to migrants. It’s becoming absolutely third-world.”

Nevertheless, Adams has defended the plan, with a spokesperson for the mayor’s office telling Fox News Digital Tuesday that the administration is working to “find new ways to better serve the hundreds of individuals and families arriving every single day, as well as the longtime New Yorkers experiencing homelessness who are already in our care.”

Adams also touted the program as a potential “cost-saving measure,” arguing that the cost of feeding migrants in the city will be roughly $600,000 a month under the new system.

Migrants in NYC

Asylum seekers line up in front of the historic Roosevelt Hotel, converted into a city-run shelter for newly arrived migrant families in New York City. (Selcuk Acar/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

RAPPER 50 CENT SAYS ‘MAYBE TRUMP IS THE ANSWER’ AFTER SEEING NYC GIVE PREPAID CREDIT CARDS TO MIGRANTS

Council member Joseph Borelli told Fox News Digital that he doesn’t doubt that the program will be cheaper for the city, but argued that the debit cards are still “fundamentally unfair” to the city’s working poor, who don’t receive similar benefits.

“New Yorkers get frustrated when they see migrants getting free debit cards at the same time we’re all going to be charged $15 to go into Manhattan,” Borelli said, referring to the borough’s new congestion pricing toll.

Like Borelli, Paladino acknowledged the cost-savings of the plan but echoed a similar sentiment when it comes to the fairness of offering illegal migrants free services.

“It assumes that we’re somehow obligated to provide illegals with welfare to begin with. We are not,” Paladino said. “We all know they were throwing away the food being provided at the shelters. OK, so what? It really puts the lie to the ‘desperate refugees’ narrative — people hungry and desperate don’t throw food away. Clearly, they found a way to eat and fend for themselves for months without our free meals. But suddenly we have to give them millions of taxpayer dollars for food?”

People sleeping on streets of NYC

Migrants wait in a long line overnight hoping to receive a placement in a city shelter, Dec. 6, 2023, in the East Village neighborhood of New York City. (Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images)

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Instead, Paladino argued in favor of deporting the migrants, arguing there are a host of unforeseen consequences that could arise from the debit cards.

“Frankly, the whole program is a mess, from the completely inexperienced nonprofit issuing and distributing the debit cards, to the total lack of transparency in its implementation, to the nonexistent accountability for the users,” Paladino said. “This is untraceable free money being handed out to people who don’t belong here in the first place. It’s madness. It’s going to create a black market and all kinds of negative incentive structures.”

Adams’ office did not immediately respond to a Fox News Digital request for comment.

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