Quiet Change, Big Impact: Migrants See Welfare Boost in NY

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It appears that the state of New York, under Gov. Kathy Hochul’s leadership, has made changes to its Safety Net Assistance (SNA) program, allowing non-citizens, including migrants who have filled out asylum application forms, to qualify for welfare benefits. The criteria for eligibility were expanded to include non-citizens who are considered “permanently residing under color of law (PRUCOL).”

The SNA program provides cash assistance to eligible individuals and families who don’t typically qualify for other forms of welfare. After a maximum of two years, cash assistance is usually provided in non-cash form, such as direct payments to landlords or vouchers sent to utility companies.

Exact numbers of migrants affected by this rule change have not been released, but it is believed that around ten percent of New York’s migrants may be receiving or will receive the additional cash benefits. Over 173,000 migrants have reportedly entered New York City since the spring of 2022, suggesting that more than 17,000 migrants in the city alone could be receiving SNA benefits.

According to an OTDA spokesperson, the additional support for migrants is a “small portion” of the $4.3 billion in taxpayer funds allocated by Hochul to address the migrant crisis, in the absence of new federal aid. The welfare expansion has drawn criticism from both Republicans and Democrats.

Some lawmakers believe that this expansion attracts migrants to the state while potentially burdening middle- and lower-income New Yorkers with increased taxes. Others argue that the provision of safety net assistance should primarily benefit New Yorkers facing temporary difficulties.

It is worth noting that Hochul’s spokesperson has blamed Republicans for the migrant crisis and stated that New York State must bear the financial burden due to a lack of federal assistance resulting from the failure to reach a bipartisan deal.

This revelation follows criticism of NYC Mayor Eric Adams’ plan to distribute $53 million to migrants in prepaid credit cards.