Even Migrants Now Find Sanctuary Cities Unlivable


February 9, 2023

By Brian Lonergan

Until very recently, it was considered self-evident that those entering the United States illegally were coming to improve their quality of life. There was plenty of supporting evidence, as things we consider standard here—indoor plumbing, air conditioning, and Wi-Fi, to name a few—are still luxuries in most developing countries. 

In the Biden era of immigration, however, the sharp contrast between the two worlds is deteriorating. While the United States still has the creature comforts one would expect from an established superpower nation, years of tolerance for unchecked illegal migration now has some arrivals reconsidering the wisdom of their decisions to make the journey here.

In New York City, the epicenter of the current migrant bus tragicomedy, a growing number of foreign nationals reportedly have decided to get on another bus—all the way out of the United States and into Canada.  

“I wanted to live in New York because I thought it would be a better future for my daughters,” Susy Sanchez Solzarno, who came here illegally from Peru, told the New York Post. “But as the days went by, I saw insecurity, many homeless people, many people who shout and are disrespectful, and many people on drugs.”

The irony of this statement is too rich to ignore. For years, big-city mayors have lectured the rest of us about how their sanctuary policies make their cities more welcoming, safer, and more tolerant. They swatted away any concerns that such policies lead to higher crime and overcrowding and serve as a drain on already tight city budgets. Now, direct from the mouths of migrants themselves, we get the truth: Sanctuary policies make conditions so intolerable that even those who presumably benefit from them are looking elsewhere.

In light of this truth, mayors, activists, and media talking heads continue to sing the tired mantra that “immigrants make America stronger.” What should be indisputable by now is that an unregulated influx of immigrants inevitably makes cities poorer.

Sanctuary policies make conditions so intolerable that even those who presumably benefit from them are looking elsewhere.

In New York City, Mayor Eric Adams continues to increase his requests for migrant aid from his state government and the White House. Adams in October declared a state of emergency when the migrant buses started arriving and estimated the city would need $1 billion in assistance. Today, an internal city memo calculates the city needs $4.2 billion.

When divided by the roughly 44,700 migrants who have been settled in the city over the last few months, that estimate equates to almost $94,400 per migrant. That finite city funds are being spent on luxury hotels and discarded food for migrants is as much an indictment of New York’s leadership as it is the humanitarian crisis the Biden Administration has intentionally created by disregarding our southern border.

If the relatively few illegal entries to New York will be that costly, the total number allowed in by the Biden White House will be ruinous for the country. Approximately 5.5 million illegal aliens have crossed our border since Biden assumed the presidency. Using New York’s estimate, those new arrivals will cost America in excess of half a trillion dollars. This at a time when inflation is crushing American families, our infrastructure is decaying, and retirement accounts are losing value. How, exactly, do immigrants make America stronger?

Any idea that the worst is over after absorbing more than 5 million aliens in two years is just wishful thinking that contradicts available data. A recent Gallup poll found that the desire to relocate to another country from sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and parts of Asia has increased. In 13 countries, about half or more of the adult population would like to move to another country if they had the chance. The country where most potential migrants would like to move has been the same since such polling started 16 years ago: the United States, of course.

And why not? For aspiring migrants, there is no better time to enter the United States illegally than right now—even as they may not always appreciate what they find when they get here. Nevertheless, the door is open. And we may not always have a non compos mentis chief executive who is beholden to radical anti-borders activists.

The debacle of New York should be definitive proof that sanctuary policies are a complete failure. They deliver on none of their utopian promises while making their critics look prophetic. Only when their advocates are flushed from public office might our once-great metropolises begin to heal.

Brian Lonergan is director of communications at the Immigration Reform Law Institute, a public interest law firm working to defend the rights and interests of the American people from the negative effects of illegal migration.

Also published at American Greatness, February 9, 2023.

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