9 Democratic Governors Push Biden and Congress to Address Migrant Crisis

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Nine Democratic governors have joined together to urge the Biden administration and congressional leaders to address what they call “a humanitarian crisis” created by the surge of migrants seeking refuge in the United States.

The governors, led by Gov. Kathy Hochul of New York, asked in a letter to the White House and Congress for “a serious commitment” to overhauling the immigration system that would include federal coordination on a strategy to relieve pressure on the southern and northern borders, as well as for more funds for states.

“It is clear our national immigration system is outdated and unprepared to respond to this unprecedented global migration,” reads the letter, which is signed by Ms. Hochul and the governors of Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, New Mexico, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Maryland.

Last year, President Biden proposed a $106 billion package that included aid to states and localities as well as more funding for border security and deportations, along with aid to Ukraine. But like so many other immigration-related proposals of the past, his effort failed to garner the bipartisan support necessary to pass a divided Congress.

A strong Biden ally, Ms. Hochul has until now been reluctant to take a leadership role in pushing the White House for more federal aid, even as New York has been a focal point of the migrant crisis. Mayor Eric Adams of New York City has not hesitated to lobby, and his attacks on the Biden administration have been met with brusque criticism of how the city has handled the crisis.

Since last spring, 170,000 migrants have arrived in New York City, and the city is still housing about 70,000 of them. Many of those seeking refuge came to New York on buses paid for by Republican governors who saw the move as both a way to ease the burden on their own states and a potent political message for Democrats who in their view had played down the situation at the border for too long.

The arrivals quickly overwhelmed New York City’s already overburdened shelter system, which operates under a 1981 decree that requires the city to make temporary housing available to anyone who requests it.

But it is not only shelter resources that have been strained by the record numbers of migrants: Legal, educational, and medical systems have also been taxed. Last week, some families slept on snowy streets in the hopes of being first in line for municipal ID cards that they believed would help them find jobs.

Mayor Adams has projected that the cost of these services will approach $10.6 billion from the current fiscal year through next June, putting a dire strain on the city’s finances. Over the past two years New York State is projected to spend $4.3 billion to support shelter and other migrant services, dipping into its reserves to do so.

In their letter, which was shared with The New York Times, the Democrats seemed to acknowledge the political risk of bringing attention to the immigration issue during a presidential election year, especially since former President Donald J. Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, made it a signature of his agenda.

And while the Democrats said that the Biden administration has made “important progress” on the issue, they nonetheless say the need for federal assistance is dire.

“With ongoing conflicts around the world, global migration is at a historic high,” the letter reads. “States and cities cannot indefinitely respond to the subsequent strain on state and local resources without congressional action.”

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