View all Articles
Commentary By Nicole Gelinas

The Collapse of New York’s Immigration Dream

Governance, Culture New York, New York City, Immigration

The city's 'right to shelter' is swiftly unravelling

New York has always been powered by immigration. Over the 20th century, it was the Irish who built the subways and the Greeks who ran the supermarkets; now, Colombians watch over our children and Bangladeshis drive the cabs. Yet in the past three years, something has gone wrong with the city’s approach to immigration. Gone are the days of immigrants flocking to take part in New York’s booming economy. Today, the only thing drawing potentially unlimited people to this stagnant city is the government’s promise of a “right to shelter”.

Six years ago, few would have cast the presence of illegal migrants as a crisis. Illegal immigrants came to New York to work; their workforce participation rate was nearly 78%, compared to 63% for legal migrants, and 65% for natural-born citizens. Immigrants made up more than one-third of New York’s construction workers and a quarter of dishwashers, cooks, maids, and housekeepers. The fact that illegal migrants weren’t allowed to work wasn’t an impediment: domestic workers and gardeners could ask the families who hired them to pay in cash, and large parts of the construction and restaurant industry weren’t too troubled about paying workers under the table. For this reason, while all immigrant children could go to school and get healthcare, adult illegal immigrants weren’t a drain on the social safety net: federal law made them ineligible for food stamps, public housing, and non-emergency healthcare.

Continue reading the entire piece here at UnHerd


Nicole Gelinas is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and contributing editor at City Journal. Follow her on Twitter here.

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images