Right to Shelter Not The Right Policy Now

New York City Mayor Eric Adams last week pleaded with a state judge to end the city’s long-standing “right to shelter” law as the city struggles to house more than 122,000 migrants who have come to the Big Apple since last year. 

Adams petitioned the judge to suspend the 1981 law as the city falls into a state of emergency from the open southern border over the past three years. 

Adams traveled to the southern border last week in an attempt to stem the flow of migrants being sent to the city. 

As Catholics, we are told our mission is to help anyone seeking aid and safety from a tyrannical leadership. 

But many people ask the question of why do they not come here legally? 

As Bishop Emeritus Nicholas DiMarzio writes in his “Walking With Migrants” column: An interesting study by David J. Bier, titled “Why Legal Immigration Is Nearly Impossible,” explains the reasons. In this heavily documented study with more than 450 footnotes, he deduces that fewer than 1% of those who wish to come legally to the United States actually can migrate. 

He states, “Even when someone qualifies, annual immigration caps greatly delay and, more frequently, eliminate the immigrant’s chance to come to the United States. Legal immigration is less like waiting in line and more like winning the lottery.” 

While some are applauding our open border, how much hardship is being endured by migrants trying to get into the country from Central and South American countries? 

With a grueling sojourn while trying to evade the predators preying on the migrant trade and drug cartels, we have no idea how many migrants have been injured, wounded, or killed before getting across the Rio Grande. 

With Mayor Adams crying uncle for the inundation of migrants depleting the city coffers and social services safety nets, what are the additional hardships being endured by those seeking a better life once they arrive in the Big Apple? 

As Catholics we should have empathy for our fellow people seeking a better life for their families; however, we should also have concern for all the migrants believing they would make it in illegally with our open border yet lost their lives before seeing the border. 

Now that politicians from both sides of the aisle are looking for relief from America’s migrant surge, it’s time — as the Biden administration quietly admitted last week — that securing the border with a wall may be the right time. 

In the long term this may actually save lives as future migrants will not think crossing into America is an open-door policy. 

In the meantime, the right to shelter law needs to be put on hold temporarily. While it is right to provide shelter, the financial strain is taking too much of a toll on the city, and the federal government has refused to help. 

Adams has ordered budget cuts for all city departments, including schools. Any cuts to the school budget will only hurt the children and families who need help the most. 

Safeguards should be put in place so that those who are intended to be helped by the law, the homeless and those with mental illness, will still get the services they need. The shelter system has become so overwhelmed that these people have been pushed to the side.