Where Do New Yorkers Go To Seek Asylum From Mayor Adams’s ‘Asylum Seeker’ Spending Spree? The Cocktail Party Contrarian Wants To Know

The mayor knows he has milked his city dry on this issue and it can’t go on. Desperately trying to keep people on his side until the big checks come in, he will say anything.

Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images
Mayor Adams on April 18, 2023, at New York City. Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

On August 9, Mayor Adams delivered an address about the city’s “Asylum Seeker” crisis. His speechwriters chose this specific designation carefully both to ensure the public understands its moral obligation to accept any decision made on behalf of the migrants’ welfare, and to turn on the spigot of federal funding that Mr. Adams is desperately seeking.

Never mind that no one has persuasively demonstrated that the 100,000 illegal immigrants now resident in New York City are all actual asylum seekers as opposed to opportunity seekers. Not one reporter asked about actual legal status in the post-speech Q&A session, even though as of June the mayor’s office acknowledged that the majority of migrants in our shelters and on our streets hadn’t even yet applied for asylum. 

Both those running from oppression and those looking for a better life elicit deep sympathy, but the mayor knows that if he wants the state and federal governments to send him billions of dollars to cover the inflated daily rates on otherwise empty Manhattan hotel rooms owned by potential campaign supporters, he needs the right trigger words. Calling people “asylum seekers” pressures politicians into signing off on generosity that homeless veterans only wish they inspired. 

It may not be working as well as Mr. Adams would like so far, but the plight of the desperate single mothers he keeps referring to, and who never seem to appear in photos amongst throngs of young males on the sidewalks, will surely, eventually, move even the most hardened government officials’ hearts. They just have to be convinced.

Mr. Adams may acknowledge that our immigration system is broken and that there is an actual limit to the city’s resources, but that doesn’t make him any more of a serious voice on this issue than others who spend wildly without the empty rhetoric. He has no more interest in stopping migrants from coming to New York than they do — he just doesn’t want to pay the political price for subsidizing their stays by further burdening his own budget and having to answer for it later. 

He has already angered New Yorkers by spending their money on an endless stream of people incentivized by that money to continue streaming into the city. When they object, he shames them. Many New Yorkers can’t afford to buy meat and eggs, but Mr. Adams reminds them that the people he is willing to cut existing program budgets to support are “the hardworking New Yorkers who make life here possible.” Next, he will announce a city-wide “thank-you note” campaign directed at all the unvetted people he already calls “New Yorkers” to whom we now owe not only food, shelter, education, and legal assistance, but also a debt of gratitude.

Why shouldn’t we continue to pay for something we plainly cannot afford? Because, as Mr. Adams explains, “that’s who we are, a city of empathy.” Every time a serious policy question gets answered with emotional blackmail masquerading as a reason to do something so obviously unreasonable, a politician knows his reckless free rein is being challenged.

When Mr. Adams says we are at a “breaking point” he mostly means — his office. He must sense that he can no longer ask New York City residents, already watching their city decline above and below ground, to continue to support the madness. Whether he is ideologically committed to the open border policies of President Biden, a fan of New York’s “sanctuary city” status, addicted to the power that comes from handing out cash and contracts, or just narcissistically enjoying his humanitarian of the year moment in front of the cameras, Mayor Adams knows he has milked his city dry on this issue and it can’t go on.

Desperately trying to keep people on his side until the big checks come in, he will say anything. We will get all the money back once the migrants get their work visas, he assured his listeners. He actually called it “smart economics.” 

None of this is smart. It is plain old cynical. Crises tend to open the purse strings in politics. Failing schools claim more money stands between them and students who can read at grade level, just as failed offensives in Ukraine are only another $100 billion away from turning the tide of the war. The more dire the situation, the more money is needed for those who created the crisis to fix it. Unsurprisingly, they never do, but they become heroes, kingmakers, brokers, preachers, and human rights activists as they distribute other people’s cash unaccountably. 

So too with Mr. Adams’s “asylum seeker crisis.” There are economic, political, and emotional advantages to be had in welcoming into our city, without regard to reality, every human being who is tired, poor, and yearning to be free as asylees. And there are many who love a good advantage. 

But there are also economic, political, and emotional costs to doing so. Those costs are, of course, never paid by the “big-hearted” elected officials who spend as much per night on migrants’ hotel rooms as they used to spend on their citizens’ monthly food stamp allotment before the program got scaled back and inflation soared. 

This crisis is not about empathy, immigration, or Emma Lazarus. New Yorkers have embraced all three and don’t need lessons in how to be kind from politicians with dreams of tent cities on Randall’s Island in their heads. This is about administrative failure seeking to paper over its catastrophic stewardship with false ethics, bad math, and enormous self-interest. 

It does so while opportunistically and righteously demanding monopoly money rain down from D.C. as the mayor of New York ironically invokes Ellis Island, a former legal point of entry to Åmerica, to make his case for more illegal immigration and a bigger halo for his head. Where does one go to seek asylum from that?


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