NYC Giving Unlawful Migrants Prepaid Debit Cards

Unlawful migrants in NYC | Photo by Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images

New York City has officially begun a pilot program to provide prepaid debit cards to unlawful migrants for assistance in purchasing food and baby supplies.

This program will expand to 115 families in the coming days and will be administered to families of four that include two children under the age of 5 and are housed in hotels as a source of emergency shelter. The unlawful migrants will receive a weekly prepaid debit card of up to $350 for the duration of their stay, per Fox News.

These cards can only be used at certain locations, including bodegas, grocery stores, supermarkets, and convenience stores.

Mobility Capital Finance, a tech startup company, signed a $53 million contract with New York City to provide the debit cards. The finance company is projected to net a profit of roughly $1.8 million, per The Post Millennial.

A spokesperson from New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ office, Kayla Mamalek, claimed this program would save the city money and prevent food waste.

“This cost-saving measure will replace the city’s current system of providing non-perishable food boxes to migrant families staying in hotels, much of which is often discarded,” said Mamalek, according to The Post Millennial.

Adams was asked whether this program sends “mixed messages” to unlawful migrants who have heard that the city is full and yet that it provides food, shelter, and services, to which the mayor responded by saying that it “sends a mixed message when it’s distorted,” as reported by Politico.

Joseph Borelli is the city council’s Republican minority leader. He is glad the city has found a way to reduce the financial strain of caring for migrants but added he believes many residents “are going to take this as something that’s fundamentally unfair.”

“There are plenty of New Yorkers struggling to pay their bills,” Borelli explained, according to The New York Times.

Anne Williams-Isom, New York City’s deputy mayor for health and human services, responded to backlash about the program with confusion, saying, “I do struggle with why people are being so negative when it comes to providing something so basic for families with children,” reported The New York Times.

Moving forward, Williams-Isom said the city “can take a look at it after six weeks and see what’s working and what’s not,” per Politico.

The pilot program begins just months after Adams warned that the city was preparing for a “financial tsunami” caused by the influx of migrants, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

New York City is not the only location trying to manage the high price tag that has accompanied the increase of unlawful migrants. Tucson and Pima County in Arizona are facing an ending to federal funding that has been used to help support thousands of unlawful migrants arriving daily.

Tucson City Manager Michael Ortega said he is “sounding the alarm” to prepare the city for a catastrophe once the federal funding ends.

“It’s about a million dollars a week and so in a short period of time that could be catastrophic for the city of Tucson and for the region,” Ortega explained, per 13 News.

While it remains to be seen what the city will do once the federal funding ends on April 1, multiple city and county leaders believe that they will have a plan in place by that time despite not knowing what that plan looks like.

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