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Migrant crisis in NY will require a ‘substantial’ amount of money, Hochul says

Gov. Kathy Hochul answers questions from the media on the state budget and other issues at the New York State Capitol on Sept. 26, 2023.
Mike Groll
/
Office of Gov. Kathy Hochul
Gov. Kathy Hochul answers questions from the media on the state budget and other issues at the New York State Capitol on Sept. 26, 2023.

New York’s ongoing migrant crisis will likely require a “substantial” amount of money in the new state budget to manage the continuing arrival of tens of thousands of asylum-seekers into the state, Gov. Kathy Hochul said.

The governor’s budget plan is not due until January, but Hochul said she and her aides are mapping out details now. The state has already spent $1.7 billion, including $1 billion to reimburse New York City’s costs in housing and feeding the migrants. And in a memo to President Biden asking for help, she said that the costs in the next year could reach $4.5 billion.

“How much money will I need in next year's budget?” Hochul asked. “We’re making those estimates right now. But it will be substantial.”

The governor said the state is now paying for 45% of the costs to shelter the asylum-seekers, including at unused space in the state-run Creedmoor Psychiatric Center in Queens, and the former U.S. Naval air station Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn.

She said the state is also providing millions in funding to legal services providers to expedite the asylum-seekers’ paperwork and to staff a portal at the state Department of Labor to match potential employers and the migrants from Venezuela once they obtain their expedited work permits authorized by the Biden administration.

New York is also funding 2,200 National Guard posts to help with the migrants.

“None of it was projected,” Hochul said. “That's why we set aside money, so we can be responsive when a crisis happens.”

Hochul said there’s always a chance that fewer migrants could seek border crossings in the coming months, or that the president and Congress could come up with policies to ease the situation. But she said the state needs to be prepared for the crisis to continue for a while.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau chief for the New York Public News Network, composed of a dozen newsrooms across the state. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.