NEW YORK - Mayor Eric Adams threw some lukewarm water on Wednesday's announcement by the White House that Venezuelan migrants living in the country before July 31st will be eligible for Temporary Protected Status (TPS).
The TPS status means that the migrants would be eligible to work without having to wait the typical 6 months. However, according to Adams, this will only affect less than 9,500 migrants currently living in the city’s shelter system.
"It’s not sustainable," Adams said. "It’s not sustainable."
Right now the city is caring for around 60,000 migrants. According to Adams, less than 15,000 of these migrants are Venezuelan. Out of this group, around 5,500 are not eligible to work since they are under the age of 18, which brings the total number of migrants eligible for work authorization to around 9,500. This new policy then leaves out around 45,000 migrants in the city’s care, ineligible to work right away.
"5,500 can't work in the city because they are under the age that they can or they're under 18 years old," Adams said. "We're not going to have four-year-olds going to do a job. So that leaves us a total of 9,500 out of the 60,000 that are eligible to apply for work authorization."
On top of that, Adams says that the city is still receiving 10,000 migrants per month, emphasizing the need for more funding.
But City Hall says they are mobilizing staff to go door to door to help Venezuelans through this process.
These migrants will have to fill out four forms. The asylum application, a temporary protected status application and a work authorization form.
The fourth form is a fee waiver. It costs $410 to apply for work authorization, which the city says it’s not paying for – so in order to have the fee waived, these migrants will have to fill out that fourth physical form and mail it in.
"I don’t think these are short forms," Deputy Mayor Fabien Levy said. "I think these forms will take some time. We've been doing screens for a few months, both to help people apply for asylum and now to do a survey on work authorization. We're going to add this as part of our repertoire."
Governor Kathy Hochul says that the state will be mobilizing more than 70 employees to help with this effort and allocating around $30 million.
Once these migrants get work authorization, the state also has launched a program earlier this year that will help connect them with jobs and will eventually help up to 1200 migrants permanently resettle to upstate communities.
Hochul emphasizes however that New York is out of room and claims the city’s right-to-shelter mandate does not apply to migrants.
This mandate requires that anyone who asks for shelter receives it. Whether this applies to migrants, is a battle currently playing out in court.
"The fundamental premise is correct," Hochul said. "However, the way it has been interpreted, that this is for people who are from all over the world, is more than we can handle."
City Hall also saying on Thursday that there is a chance that these 15 percent budget cuts to city agencies in light of the migrant crisis might be reassessed in light of this TPS announcement from Washington.