Wall Street and other top business leaders joined in the debate over the growing number of asylum-seekers in the city, calling on the Biden administration to provide New York City with much-needed assistance and arguing that migrants could help solve a labor shortage.
The request came in a letter signed by 114 business leaders, among them the heads of JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Ernst and Young, Blackstone and Citi, released Monday by the pro-business coalition Partnership for New York City.
It’s causing a fiscal challenge for the city, but it’s really a humanitarian crisis.
It was addressed to the president and congressional leaders and comes as the migrants face themselves at the center of a widening community debate over their presence in New York.
The urged the federal officials urged to “take immediate action to better control the border,” and requested federal relief “for educational, housing, security, and health care services to offset the costs that local and state governments are incurring with limited federal aid.”
Kathryn S. Wylde, the Partnership’s CEO and president and a signatory of the letter, said the letter was meant to amplify similar requests made last week by Gov. Kathy Hochul in response to the presence of more than 100,000 asylum seekers in the city.
“It’s causing a fiscal challenge for the city, but it’s really a humanitarian crisis,” said Wylde in an interview with Gothamist. “These are people, families for the most part, 20% of them kids who have at enormous sacrifice made their way to the United States and then mostly [been] bussed to New York City.”
Wylde said some of the signatories had personally petitioned the Biden administration for relief. She said that while immigration reform fell on Congress, the president could help expedite work authorizations while simultaneously addressing a widespread worker shortage.
“There are an estimated 10,000 job openings that can’t be filled in New York City and restaurants are actually not opening for lunch in some cases because they don’t have enough workers,” Wylde said.
Kayla Mamelak, a spokesperson for Mayor Eric Adams, said in statement in reply that the city continued to call on the Biden administration “to take the lead in implementing a decompression strategy at the border, expedite pathways to work authorizations for asylum seekers, to declare a state of emergency facilitating swift allocation of federal funds to address our pressing challenges, and to provide more funding to match the reality of the course on the ground.”
Wylde said the migrants could boost employment in New York. Those with minimal English language skills could be trained for entry-level jobs in a matter of five to seven weeks, “just to give them a start, which is what most of these families are looking for is some way that they can establish themselves, get a start. And employers are eager to help them do that.”
More than 100,000 migrants have come to the city in an influx that began in spring 2022, filling city shelters for the homeless and compelling the creation of tent cities to accommodate the newcomers. While throngs of community aid workers have assisted the migrants and helped them navigate their new country, protesters in Staten Island, Queens and elsewhere have spoken out against their presence.
Wylde acknowledged the pushback the migrants are receiving, including the argument that “anything you do that makes it easier to get a work permit is going to encourage more people to come.”
But she said it was critical to address the problem at hand, and said her own feelings on the subject had been influenced by encounters she’d had.
“You run into women with kids who are selling candy on the subways,” she said, adding that she’d also visited the city’s main intake center at the Roosevelt Hotel and learned that a high proportion of asylum seekers were dealing with depression and in need of “therapeutical help to deal with a terrible circumstance.”
“We believe that immigration is the key to what makes New York great,” Wylde said. “And so we want to figure out how is it that we can really help people get into this country and establish themselves, hopefully legally.”
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by PostX News and is published from a syndicated feed.)