By NYS Assemblyman Kieran Michael Lalor, Opinion Editorial
The newly passed New York State budget is now bigger than that of Florida and Texas combined. It makes clear that the Left cares more about illegal immigrants than they do the long-suffering citizens of New York.
In the middle of the night this week, the New York State legislature passed and Governor Cuomo signed a $212 billion budget that includes $2.1 billion specifically for illegal immigrants claiming they were unemployed during the pandemic. The eight-figure appropriation for illegal immigrants is part of a $5 billion “excluded workers” fund set up for those who were not eligible for unemployment insurance or other federal funds during the pandemic but who became unemployed during the pandemic.
For the citizens and lawful residents of the state who, for example, drive for Uber, this funding makes sense. But to allow illegal immigrants to get a $15,000 or $20,000 check is indefensible. But indefensibility doesn’t matter. The supporters of this spending don’t need to defend it on the merits. Anyone who questions it, including moderate Democrat lawmakers who spoke out, are slurred publicly as “racist” by legislators.
Making matters worse, the program begs for fraud. The illegal immigrant must apply to the Department of Labor and show that he or she lived in New York during the pandemic. The legislation lists a series of documents including a driver’s license and high school diploma that will suffice to prove residency.
At first, I was concerned about the identification requirement for fear Major League Baseball would get wind of it and ship the Yankees and the Mets off to Colorado as they did with the All-Star game after Georgia required identification to vote. But the three people in the negotiating room, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, crafted the language of the budget to cover their bases. The legislation allows the state to accept, “any other document the commissioner of labor deems relevant.” It appears this documentation requirement is more for show and the labor department can create exceptions that are guaranteed to devour the rule.
The illegal immigrant seeking this windfall must also prove that he or she worked for six months prior to being laid off during the pandemic. There are proof of employment requirements but the Department of Labor has a lot of discretion and it’s clear that they are not likely to turn many away.
Everywhere but in the halls of the New York State Capitol, it goes without saying that people who owe their entire presence in the United States to fraudulent documents are going to find the documents they need to get a five-figure check from a left-wing government determined to give it to them.
For years we were lectured by liberals about how much illegal immigrants put into the system compared to what they take out. But with one-party Democrat rule and the socialist wing ascendant, they don’t have to bother with that drivel anymore. They are allowing illegal immigrants to take $2 billion out of a program they paid zero dollars into.
And how have those who actually paid into the Unemployment Insurance system fared during the pandemic? For the past thirteen months, that system has melted down in slow motion.
My office has fielded hundreds of calls regarding the problems with unemployment. The fear and stress facing these New Yorkers when the system they paid into fails them after the state locked them out of their job is palpable.
Many submit forms that “go missing.” Constituents must then resend all the information and the process is significantly delayed for them, sometimes months. Paperwork gets mixed up with other New Yorkers. The process is then delayed for both parties. Commonly New Yorkers call and call and just can’t get through or speak to anyone in the Department of Labor for weeks if not months. There have even been data breaches. New Yorkers are receiving cards with money on them as if they applied for and are now on unemployment but they are not.
These problems are not over for many New Yorkers still trying to get their backlogged claims addressed by the state so they can survive. But with the stroke of a pen, illegal immigrants who didn’t pay for it will get a big fat check while those who play by the rules continue to wait.
More than ever New Yorkers are left to either foot the bill for a government that puts them at the back of the line behind illegal immigrants or follow the moving vans out of the state.
New York State Assemblyman Kieran M. Lalor (R-105th Assembly District)
Assemblyman Kieran Michael Lalor, a former teacher at Our Lady of Lourdes in Poughkeepsie, is a Marine Corps veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and a frequent guest on the Fox News Channel. He is a graduate of John Jay High School, Providence College and Pace Law School and lives in Hopewell Jct. with his wife Mary Jo and their four children Katie, Riley, Mikey and Kieran Jr.