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New York is Having an Immigration Crisis? Join the Club of Receiving Cities

Clarence Page, Tribune Content Agency on

Mayor Eric Adams is earning praise from Republicans, which is always a danger sign for Democrats.

He’s also receiving criticism from members of his own party, which is nothing out of the blue either.

The reactions came after he told an audience of Upper West Side residents that the city’s continuing influx of thousands of migrants “will destroy New York City.”

“I’m gonna tell you something, New Yorkers, never in my life have I had a problem that I didn’t see an ending to. I don’t see an ending to this,” the retired New York City police captain said during a town hall event last week. “This issue will destroy New York City.”

“Destroy New York City?” Good riddance, say some wags, but I’m not one of them.

Sounds like he’s lived something of a charmed life until now, if this is the only endless problem he’s seen. After all, he’s mayor of New York, the nation’s biggest city, meaning it also has its biggest collection of problems, along with — in many eyes — its biggest collection of assets, although I keep my loyalties to Chicago pizza.

But as awful as the migrant issue has been for the Big Apple in the short term, I keep my faith in New York’s powers of resilience in the long run. Yes, I had some doubts in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. But the city came back and has thrived, unlike, say, Rudy Giuliani’s reputation.

When it comes to resiliency, I still keep faith in the city that survived the catastrophic Great Chicago Fire. It was one of the worst disasters in American history, yet it still manages to hold on to the adjective “Great” in its name.

While Adams was singing the blues in his sense of being forsaken by Washington, despite the apparent benefits of having a Democratic president in the White House, Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson was offering a peek at his plans to set up “base camps” for migrants throughout the city and move almost 1,600 adults and children who have been sleeping in Chicago police stations into large tents to get through Chicago’s infamous winter. Another 418 were sleeping inside O’Hare International Airport, according to city data, with, as Chuck Berry sang, no particular place else to go.

Having covered the nation’s immigration puzzle since the days when President Ronald Reagan enacted an immigrant amnesty that, interestingly, Republicans seldom talk about now, I was pleased to see New York U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat get a little TV airtime. Born in the Dominican Republic, he is the first formerly undocumented immigrant to serve in Congress. As a firsthand veteran of the process, he has had lots of time to work on immigration issues and do more than just complain about the dilemmas.

 

While others, like me, spend a lot of time analyzing the problem, he looks for solutions.

Asked by CNN host Abby Phillip what he thought of Adams’ predicament and doomsday sentiments, he said astutely that Adams, a friend of his, is “doing what he has to do” to get federal funding. But, more than that, Espaillat said, I look at it from another perspective, that every crisis brings about great opportunities.

Immigration itself offers opportunities to the migrant and to the receiving country, in this case the United States. The news has been remarkably heavy with stories about the difficulties some employers are experiencing as they try to fill job vacancies.

The problem: Many migrants would like to work and support themselves and their families, but the process and approval of work permits is too grindingly slow.

Venezuelans, one of the largest nationalities in this latest immigration wave, used to have temporary protected status because of hardships from which they seek asylum. But they lost that status a while ago, and its restoration has fallen by the wayside. Let’s get it back before New York dies, among others.

Those are just a few ways American cities survive — in the long run.

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(E-mail Clarence Page at cpage@chicagotribune.com.)

©2023 Clarence Page. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


(c) 2023 CLARENCE PAGE DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.

 

 

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