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Illegal Immigrants to Get Pre-Paid Debit Cards in $53 Million Program	New York City is launching a $53 million program, providing pre-paid debit cards for illegal immigrants.

Illegal immigrants in the Big Apple will soon start receiving pre-paid debit cards that they must pledge to use only to buy food, according to New York City records and media reports.

Records indicate that New York City has awarded a $53 million contract to a company called Mobility Capital Finance (MoCaFi), which will create and distribute the pre-paid cards, called immediate response cards.

Under the program, MoCaFi will begin delivering the cards to the Roosevelt Hotel, the first touchpoint for illegal immigrants arriving in the city, and will hand out them out “directly to asylum seekers receiving financial assistance.”

The first to receive the cards will be families with children under the care of NYC’s Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) agency.

“MoCaFi looks forward to partnering with New York City to disburse funds for asylum seekers to purchase fresh, hot food,” MoCaFi CEO and founder Wole Coaxum said in a statement to the New York Post.

“MoCaFi’s goal is to expand access to financial resources for individuals excluded from banking, such as asylum seekers, while helping the local economy.”

New York City Councilman Joe Borelli criticized the program, telling Fox 5 NY that it’s providing illegal immigrants with services on the taxpayer dime.

“We’re just giving this migrant population more free stuff at the expense of New York City taxpayers,” he told the outlet.
It comes as taxpayers in New York City face sharp cuts to services such as policing and education because the city has had to divert money to cover expenses associated with the influx of illegal immigrants.

Program Details

The mayor’s office said that the program will start by providing the pre-paid cards to 500 families, with restrictions on how they can spend the money.

“We will provide pre-paid debit cards to an initial 500 migrant families with children who may use the pre-paid cards exclusively at bodegas, grocery stores, supermarkets, and convenience stores to ensure the money is spent on food and baby supplies,” the City Hall statement reads, according to Fox 5 NY.

Recipients will have to sign an affidavit promising to spend the money on the cards only on food and baby supplies; they’ll face removal from the program if they do otherwise, according to the New York Post.

The size of the family will affect the amount provided on the pre-paid cards, with a family of four set to receive about $1,000 per month, according to the Post.

Neither HPD nor Mayor Eric Adams’s office replied to a request for more details about the program.

However, a spokesperson for Mr. Adams’s office told the Post that the program will make it easier for qualifying families to get the food of their choice—and will save the city money.

“Not only will this provide families with the ability to purchase fresh food for their culturally relevant diets and the baby supplies of their choosing, but the pilot program is expected to save New York City more than $600,000 per month, or more than $7.2 million annually,” Kayla Mamelak, the mayor’s spokesperson, said.

New York Mayor Eric Adams speaks during his weekly press conference at New York City Hall on Nov. 14, 2023. (Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images)
New York Mayor Eric Adams speaks during his weekly press conference at New York City Hall on Nov. 14, 2023. (Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images)

Illegal Immigration Crisis

It comes as New York City has faced an illegal immigration crisis of epic proportions, with Mr. Adams saying in December that “more than 157,000 migrants have arrived at [the city’s] door since last year—1.5 the size of the city of Albany.”

“An entire city was dropped into New York City,” the mayor said.

In a State of the City address at the end of January, Mr. Adams revealed that the number had grown to 172,000.

“We have helped more than 172,000 asylum seekers by providing food, asylum, and medical care. We have helped tens of thousands file applications to extend, temporarily, their status and to seek employment,” he said, while expressing support for using city resources to help illegal immigrants, despite public outcry over the disruption of the crisis on New Yorkers’ daily lives.

Amid the influx, Mr. Adams has walked a fine line between empathy and criticism.

For instance, he warned in September 2023 that the unending influx of illegal immigrants would “destroy New York City.”
He has also pleaded for federal help, lamenting that the Biden administration’s lack of action was leaving cities to fend for themselves.
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