A majority of New Yorkers say the federal government must do more to help with the ongoing migrant crisis — including allowing more shelters on federal lands, and speeding up work authorizations for asylum seekers, according to a new poll.
Conducted by the Siena College Research Institute, the survey comes as the tri-state area has seen an influx of thousands of asylum seekers, including more than 100,000 refugees that have arrived in New York City since last spring.
With the influx of new arrivals, officials at various levels of government have been sparring with one another over the cost and logistics of accommodating the migrants — particularly New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ administration, which has slammed the federal government for failing to provide adequate resources, they say.
“You know, Washington gave us $104 million, around $104 million out of a $5 billion price tag. That’s just not enough, and the current keeps coming,” Adams said in an unrelated interview on Monday. “We’re getting 10,000 a month of migrants and asylum seekers. This is wrong for the migrants and the asylum seekers to be living this way and it’s wrong for everyday New Yorkers to be going through this.”
Aside from the monetary costs, the city has sought to use lands owned and operated by the federal government as temporary shelters — which the feds have agreed to, in several cases. At Brooklyn’s Floyd Bennett Field, the defunct airbase owned by the National Parks Service, the federal government gave New York the green-light to house over 2,000 migrants.
Despite some protests against that decision, the federal government’s allocation of that land is, according to the Siena College Research Institute survey, in line with the city public’s desire — as the poll found that 57% of New York City respondents support using federal property as temporary shelters to house migrants currently in the five boroughs. Just 35% of respondents disagreed, according to the poll.
Meanwhile, on the hot-button issue of work authorizations, 65% of those surveyed said they would support “making it easier for migrants currently in New York to be granted work authorizations regardless of their current immigration status.” By contrast, only 29% disagreed with that sentiment.
In fact, 67% of respondents in New York City agreed that “many businesses need new immigrants to take entry level jobs in order to be successful.”
Granting work authorizations for migrants, too, would require a green-light from the federal government.
Adams has long been a proponent of taking that step, as asylum seekers are currently barred from filling many jobs due to a lack of proper work authorizations — preventing them from potentially earning enough income to get themselves out of the city’s safety net programs.
“We must expedite work visas. It’s just common sense,” Adams said during an Aug. 31 press conference. “Thousands of jobs are available to be filled, to provide the services we need in the city, this state, in this country. And to have a new wave of individuals coming here to participate in the American dream says it all.”
Some conservative elected officials have pushed back on that idea, with some arguing on the grounds that full-time citizens shouldn’t be subjected to added competition for jobs. Others, like Republican Congress Member Nicolle Malliotakis, take issue with the possibility of work authorizations leading to migrants receiving the ability to vote in municipal elections.
Overall, the poll shows a majority of New Yorkers who still support further actions by the federal government to aid city and state officials in their push to care for migrants.
“There’s no doubt, the vast majority of New Yorkers recognize that our country was built by immigrants from virtually every nation around the globe and assimilating immigrants has made America great,” said Don Levy, Siena College Research Institute’s director.