New York City invests more money in migrant crisis with expanded debit card program

New York City invests more money in migrant crisis with expanded debit card program

New York City is expected to distribute food and baby supplies debit cards to more than 7,300 migrants over the next month, expanding a controversial program designed to help migrant families staying in city-funded hotels.

The expansion will cost approximately $2.6 million and will include many more migrants than the original 3,000.

The program’s boost comes despite criticism that the city should not spend money on illegal immigrants while other budget problems persist. New York City government previously projected it would spend at least $10.6 billion on immigrants by the summer of 2025 and $2 billion this budget cycle.

Families will be issued debit cards with 28 days of credit spread over four weeks. For a family of four with two children under 5, the cards will be loaded with $350 per week, city officials said.

“(The city) empowers newly arrived families to make choices for themselves and their children by using these cards. They can shop at local stores, support small businesses and manage their own resources,” said Anne Williams-Isom, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services, in a statement.

Mayor Eric Adams defended the program, saying, “We don’t give people American Express cards.”

“We found that the food delivery service that we set up during the emergency — we could find a better way to do it in our belief that we want to save 20% of the costs for migrants. So we have a pilot project with 500 people who we give food cards, so instead of a debit card, instead of having to deliver food and have people eat food — we saw food waste — they can now get their own food, which is going to cost $12 a day,” he said.

The program provides immigrants with 40% more benefits than the SNAP benefits received by seniors and low-income people in New York.


More than 60,000 migrants are being housed in the city, as a large influx of migrants has come to New York City over the past two years.

The city recently adopted its budget, which shows it plans to spend $4.3 billion between the 2022-2023 and 2025-2026 budget periods on “emergency spending related to people seeking asylum in the United States.”