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New York City Council approves ‘bill of rights’ for asylum-seekers

New York City Mayor Eric Adams, a Democrat, hasn't opposed the proposal and is not expected to veto it.

Published: November 6, 2023 11:00pm

(The Center Square) -

(The Center Square) — The New York City Council has approved a proposal calling for an immigrant "bill of rights" amid the ongoing surge of asylum-seekers.

The proposal, which was approved on Thursday by the Democratic-controlled Council by a 43-8 vote, would require city agencies to create and publish a workers’ bill of rights, including information on rights and protections under federal, state and local laws that apply to workers in the Big Apple, regardless of immigration status.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams, a Democrat, hasn't opposed the proposal and is not expected to veto it.

The bill's primary sponsor, City Councilor Shahana Hanif, argues that the move is needed amid the surge of asylum-seekers and "empowers immigrant workers to have the knowledge they need to earn what they’re owed and support themselves and their families."

"Labor laws exist on our books to protect all of our workers, including new arrivals and more established immigrants; this Bill of Rights will go a long way to ensuring they are followed," she said in a statement.

Employers would be required to provide a copy of the yet-to-be-written bill of rights to newly hired employees under the proposal and post the document in a visible location in the workplace in English and other languages. Violators could face fines of up to $500 after an initial warning.

New York City is grappling with more than 130,000 migrants who've arrived over the past year amid a surge of immigration along the U.S.-Mexico border that has reached historic levels. The city is currently caring for more than 64,000 migrants in 200 emergency shelters in hotels and large encampments.

Under New York's right-to-shelter law, the city is required to provide emergency housing to anyone who requests it, regardless of their immigration status. The city seeks to suspend the rules in court temporarily, but the outcome of the legal challenge remains uncertain.

The city has spent nearly $2 billion on caring for asylum-seekers to date, according to newly released data, and Adams has warned that the migrant crisis will "destroy New York City" if the state and federal governments don't provide more funding and resources.

Hanif, a progressive Democrat who chairs the Council’s Immigration Committee, has been highly critical of the Adams administration's handling of the migrant crisis.

Last month, she filed a bill to block Adam's move to limit stays in the city's emergency shelter system to 30 days.

Republicans have long argued that New York City's "sanctuary" policies are encouraging asylum-seekers to resettle in the city amid the surge of immigration.

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