The ongoing influx of undocumented immigrants into New York City now threatens not just to overwhelm the city, but to spread into the suburbs, as we have already seen in Rockland and Orange counties, raising serious quality-of-life issues.
Let me make it clear from the start. America is a nation of immigrants. They have always been the lifeblood that gives America its unique sense of determination and ingenuity. I am a grandson of immigrants. Like the late Gov. Mario Cuomo, I consider America to be more a mosaic and stained glass window than a melting pot.
No country has more legal immigration than the United States. Having said that, we cannot be a nation without borders or one that allows entry to unlimited numbers of migrants. There must be an orderly process and procedure for immigration, not just to safeguard our society and communities, but for the welfare of the immigrants. We cannot financially afford the surge of undocumented immigrants we are seeing today.
Coming out of the coronavirus pandemic, our economy was straining to recover. Mental health and education needs caused by Covid had to be met and paid for, with diminished revenues. Crime in our streets had to be brought under control to protect our residents and to make cities safe for people to return to work and play. Housing had to be provided for the growing numbers of homeless, including America’s veterans. Adding 60,000 undocumented immigrants to New York City is unsustainable, especially since we have virtually no idea who these people are and what physical, mental and educational needs they have. Nor do we know the criminal histories some may have.
While the overwhelming majority of undocumented immigrants are good people, some are not. I saw examples of the negative results of uncontrolled illegal immigration on Long Island in 2014 and 2015, when there was a surge of undocumented minors across the southern border. A significant numbers of those kids were sent by the federal government to communities such as Brentwood and Central Islip, many of whose residents are hardworking immigrants from Central America. This put a severe burden on the local school districts, which had to accept these kids on very short notice while addressing their unique educational and psychological needs and deficiencies as well as the language challenges.