Queens assemblywoman’s legislative proposals amplify NYC’s call for migrant crisis action and aid

Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar
Photo by Anthony Medina

The legislative proposals from Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar in September have boosted the city’s call for more action and aid in regard to the migrant crisis.

On Tuesday, Sept. 12, when Rajkumar announced the introduction of a bill, A8037, aimed at getting asylum seekers much anticipated work authorization in the state. She also joined Senator James Sanders Jr., Senator Leroy Comrie and Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn for a rally calling out unfair attacks on Mayor Adams due to the migrant crisis and NYC budget cuts.

“It’s time for the state and federal government to step up and provide additional assistance to New York City at this time of crisis. Immigration is primarily a federal issue and yet the federal government is not supporting New York City like it ought to,” said Sanders. “Mayor Eric Adams is doing the best he can under the circumstances, and he deserves our support to lobby the state and federal government for more aid. The purpose of the additional aid would be to help provide services for immigrants and to prevent major cuts in city agency services that would have a negative impact on everyone.”

Adams warned this month that the city could be “destroyed” if it doesn’t get more assistance from the state and the federal governments to cope with the influx of migrants and said cuts to all city agencies may come next spring unless additional state and federal aid fills in the shortfall.

Rajkumar’s bill, introduced on Sept. 12, would grant work authorization to anyone who applied for asylum in the state. Her bill focuses on expediting the process to give asylum seekers work authorization, filling vacant jobs and bridging the growing divide between city and state on this humanitarian crisis.

“In the absence of federal action to issue work permits, the state must lead and issue the work permits on its own. It is time for the state to take ownership over the migrant crisis. There are tens of thousands of asylum seekers asking to work, employers eager to hire them and a wall of red tape coming between them,” said Rajkumar in a statement. “The time has come to tear down this wall of red tape and issue work permits to the asylum seekers. In so doing, we can end the migrant crisis. My bill is common sense; people legally allowed to live in our country should be able to work.”

Earlier this month, Rajkumar also introduced a legislative package in Albany, aimed at ensuring New York state helps the city manage the migrant crisis.

One of two pieces of legislation by Rajkumar, A7992, would prohibit state municipalities from relocating asylum seekers, without first consulting with another district and holds municipalities accountable for the costs of relocating asylum seekers. The bill also prevents and prohibits municipalities from using resettlement prohibitions to turn away asylum seekers.

Rajkumar’s bill is in direct response to the outcome of a legal battle between the city and 30 state counties, in which a judge ruled that the city needs to file separate lawsuits against each individual county.

A second bill introduced by Rajkumar, A7493, will create a statewide coordinator of Asylum Seeker Services, who will ultimately be responsible for the state’s response to the migrant crisis. The person appointed to the position will oversee intake, resettlement, support services, health care, housing, education and legal services for the new arrivals, according to proposed bill.

The individual selected for the role will be appointed by Governor Kathy Hochul and Mayor Adams and will be expected to help equally distribute migrants throughout the state in an effort to relieve the pressure on the city. The coordinator would also be responsible for lobbying the federal government for legislation and policies to address the influx of migrants.