(NewsNation) — After months of back and forth between top Democratic leaders, the Biden administration is making moves to help nearly half a million Venezuelan migrants by granting them the Temporary Protected Status, making them eligible for work permits.
How much of a difference will the order make in New York City?
“This is a Band-Aid, but it’s at least a Band-Aid that helps get people to work while they’re waiting for that due process,” said Zachary Iscol, New York City’s emergency management commissioner.
The surge of migrants has overwhelmed the city, which has struggled to find places to house them all. Gov. Kathy Hochul has warned immigrants once they get into the U.S. not to come to the state.
“Go somewhere else,” Hochul said in an interview Wednesday on CNN.
The city’s mayor and other elected officials have been pleading with the White House to give migrants Temporary Protected Status so they can work.
Iscol said President Joe Biden’s order will make 15,000 of the 60,000 migrants in New York City eligible to apply for work permits.
“I think it will help if we can execute, if we can get people out of the system and employed,” Iscol said. “I have gotten to know a lot of people in our care over the last year. The No. 1 thing they talk to me about is the ability to work. … A lot of them have real skills and trades that they could be applying.”
Describing it as a “national crisis,” Iscol called on local, state and federal officials to partner on immigration. That includes finding ways to achieve what he called “decompression” — sending migrants to other parts of the country.
“The federal government has run a process to relocate people around the country, get them working, and when it’s done it, it’s been a huge investment in the American economy and society,” he said. “When they don’t make that investment, the costs are huge. People resort to the underground economy, there’s not good outcomes. But if we get this right, this could be an investment in the economy and American society.”
Tensions are rising in New York City over the number of migrants there and the strain it’s placing on the city. Mayor Eric Adams estimates it could cost the city tens of billions of dollars over the next two years.
In Staten Island, protesters have been trying to stop asylum seekers from moving into a shelter.
In Midland Beach, a violent residential revolt erupted Tuesday night as an enraged crowd filled the streets, blocking a bus transporting migrants to a former senior facility now serving as an emergency shelter.
Ten protesters were arrested, nine face disorderly conduct charges and one man was charged with assaulting a police officer.
New York City has been receiving migrants over the past year who arrive on buses sent from southern states including Texas.
“I think that there’s a lot of conflation of who is to blame for this, and there’s a lot of finger-pointing, and I will leave it to the politicians to point fingers. The mayor has been very clear that we’ve got a crisis. We need to focus on addressing that crisis and we’re not going to participate in the politics or the palace intrigue,” Iscol said. “We need to work together to solve this problem.”
NewsNation correspondent Dray Clark contributed to this report.