The massive illegal-immigration surge that started when President Joe Biden took office is only getting worse. July 2022 was the second-worst July on record for migrant encounters at our southern border — up 388% from July 2020.
This full-blown crisis isn’t affecting just small towns in Texas and Arizona. It’s officially reached New York and other cities across the country. As more and more migrants arrive in New York City, resources are being drained from homeless shelters, public schools and more, all because the Biden administration and congressional Democrats won’t secure our border. Most can’t even be bothered to acknowledge a problem exists.
It becomes clearer every day that even the nation’s largest city doesn’t have the resources or ability to take on this continued migrant influx. We’re seeing this in real time as the city is working on curbing policies that guarantee access to shelter for the homeless after it left 60 illegal immigrants to sleep on benches and floors one night in a Manhattan intake center.
If it’s this bad in New York, imagine what it’s like elsewhere.
It’s not just people who are coming across illegally, either. Fentanyl and other deadly narcotics are being trafficked across our border and into our communities in staggering amounts. July saw a 202% jump in fentanyl seizures over June. At one port of entry in a single August weekend, US Customs and Border Protection seized 625,000 fentanyl pills, including 12,000 that were disguised to look like candy or ecstasy.
The federal government needs to finish the border wall, end “catch and release,” enforce the “Remain in Mexico” policy, support our CBP agents and stop incentivizing and rewarding illegal entry into our country.
We must show that our nation does in fact have borders and we do care about the rule of law. We need Biden to lead — to travel to the border, meet with local leaders and gain experienced CBP agents’ perspective and feedback.
These solutions are no great mystery. Yet for many months, Gov. Kathy Hochul has been completely silent as secret, middle-of-the-night flights land in Westchester and beyond. It’s only in recent weeks, as a new method of transportation — bus — has brought illegal immigrants to New York, that she’s started even acknowledging the issue.
Why does Hochul suddenly feel the need to push back? Perhaps because she sees an effective bogeyman in a border-state governor who happens to be in the other party?
But this isn’t about Republicans vs. Democrats or the federal government vs. state and local governments. This is about all of us, as Americans, as New Yorkers, working together to tackle this crisis.
It’s clear what needs to be done at the federal level, but we also need our state and local leaders to stop incentivizing and rewarding illegal entry. The sanctuary policies New York’s enacted in recent years have sent a clear message.
We’re seeing education, housing and health-care benefits provided to people who are not in our country legally. Americans are compassionate people, but the money for these programs doesn’t just appear out of thin air.
Many hardworking New Yorkers are already struggling with 40-year inflation highs and the rising cost of living here. They can’t afford the added burden of more government spending to benefit people who broke the law to come to this country.
New York’s “Green Light” law allows undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses and prevents federal immigration officials from accessing the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles records without a search warrant.
As a consequence, there’s been less communication and coordination between federal authorities and state and local authorities. Our law enforcement and all levels of government need to be able to work together and have elected officials’ support. State and local law enforcement should be working more with federal authorities, not less.
And we can’t be naïve about the amount of crime committed by some who are here illegally. We cannot ignore the impact on victims of serious offenses. As The Post reported this month, New York City has become a fentanyl-distribution center. “One notorious Bronx pusher,” The Post noted, “who was charged with knowingly supplying a lethal dose of fentanyl to a 28-year-old man, got sprung in 2019 because the state’s bail-reform law was about to take effect. He was facing 96 years in jail if convicted on all the charges” — but never returned to court.
New Yorkers are demanding our state do more.
I recently spearheaded a letter to Gov. Hochul from the New York Republican congressional delegation, calling on her to support the repeal of the “Green Light” law, permit and encourage more coordination and cooperation between federal and local law enforcement, repeal the state’s many incentives that reward illegal entry — and to finally speak out against the president’s refusal to secure the border. The Biden administration is sending illegal immigrants here, putting stress on New York’s resources and heightening security risks.
Constantly punting responsibility to others is not leadership. It’s not accountability. Both the Biden team and Gov. Hochul need to set aside the convenient political rhetoric and talking points of the day and start taking real, substantive action on behalf of our communities. They must stop incentivizing and rewarding illegal immigration and start securing our nation’s borders.
Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-LI) is a candidate for governor of New York.