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New York City councilor blasts Adams $53M migrant debit card program


(The Center Square) — New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ decision to give debit cards pre-loaded with money to migrants is drawing more asylum seekers to the city, city council members say.

Vickie Paladino, a Republican who represents Northeast Queens, said the money being handed out to asylum seekers through the debit cards has become an “incentive” for migrants coming to the city.

“We hear it from many of the migrants themselves – they’re coming here because they know New York will give them welfare,” she told Fox News. “This is untraceable free money being handed out to people who don’t belong here in the first place.”

Paladino’s comments add to the growing backlash over the controversial program, which got underway last week with about 115 families getting their pre-loaded debit cards in the initial round of disbursements.

The program, which will offer up to $1,000 a month for about 500 migrant families, is a partnership between Adams and the company Mobility Capital Finance, which says the plan will help migrants with food, baby supplies and other necessities as they await authorization to work from the federal government.

The Adams administration described the pilot program as a “cost savings measure” that would temporarily replace New York City’s existing system of providing non-perishable food boxes to migrant families staying in hotels and other city-funded shelters. It is expected to cost about $600,000 a month, according to the Adams administration.

Under the program, a four-person family with kids under five years old could get up to $350 per week with the debit cards, or about $18,200 a year, according to published news reports.

New York City has seen more than 183,000 asylum seekers arrive over the past year amid a historic surge of immigration along the U.S.-Mexico border. Over the past year, the city has spent more than $1 billion for tens of thousands of migrants under its care and expects to spend about $10 billion on migrant costs in coming years.

Council member Joseph Borelli has argued that the debit cards are “fundamentally unfair” to the city’s working poor, who don’t receive similar benefits from the city.

“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 told Fox News Digital, referencing New York City’s new congestion pricing toll.

Paladino said she has heard from constituents who are “sick of the invasion” of migrants to New York City and are becoming increasingly worried about an increase in crime related to the new arrivals.

“We’re seeing a massive increase in crimes attributable to migrants,” she told Fox News. “It’s becoming absolutely third-world.”