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Betsy McCaughey: Free goodies are migrant magnets exacerbating the border crisis

My sister-in-law, a nurse on Cape Cod, wants to visit New York City and is struggling to find an affordable hotel.

If she were a Venezuelan migrant who'd just arrived in the Big Apple on a bus from the southern border, she'd have a shot at a room at the four-star Row, steps from Times Square. Or a room at a SpringHill Suites by Marriott, a Holiday Express or a Comfort Inn. Free of charge.

Welcome to Hotel America! Newly arriving migrants are also getting three meals a day courtesy of room service, snacks at any time – and, at some hotels, computer facilities and playrooms for the kids. All paid for by local taxpayers.

New York, already a sanctuary city, is turning itself into a migration magnet by offering these over-the-top freebies.

Maine is another migration magnet. It's the poorest state in the Northeast and one of the poorest in the nation. Even so, it's the destination of choice for Haitian and African migrants. Maine rolls out the red carpet.

Some 400 migrant families are living in hotels and motels in Maine. To foot the bill, the state's Housing Authority dipped into Emergency Rental Assistance funds Congress provided to help people who couldn't pay their rent during the COVID lockdowns.

Some states reserved the funds for residents facing homelessness, but Maine allowed the money to house newcomers. Now that federal cash has dried up, the state is asking taxpayers to fork over $182 million for the migrants' hotel and motel rooms.

All the while, Maine is facing the highest rate of homelessness in 15 years, with shelters near capacity and homeless locals desperate to survive winter in tents.

What's to blame for this Americans-last policy? The "immigration-industrial complex" – a web of politicians, immigration attorneys and nonprofits that operate on government grants to care for migrants.

Driven by ideology and the lure of public funds, the immigration-industrial complex pushes relentlessly for money for migrants. It gets too little pushback from veterans' groups and other Americans who need help themselves and from taxpayers forced to provide migrants things they can't afford themselves – like hotel stays.

Mayor Eric Adams, who visited El Paso Sunday, complains that migrants have a "false impression" they'll be living in hotels.

Sorry, Mr. Mayor, it's not a false impression. You can thank yourself for the migrants' expectations. You signed a contract Friday with the Hotel Association of New York City, reserving 55 entire hotels exclusively for migrants. News like that spreads like wildfire, all the way to Latin America.

The wave of migrants arriving in New York City is being called an "emergency" but will likely become the new normal, considering the amenities the city offers.

Migrants arriving at Port Authority are connected to many services, including immigration attorneys paid for by city and state taxpayers, and health care, not just emergency care.

As if that's not enough, on Dec. 14, Adams announced "Promise NYC," a new child-care program expressly targeting undocumented children.

The immigration-industrial complex is pushing for more, all across the nation. Washington state just opened up its ObamaCare health-insurance program to the undocumented – another magnet sure to attract migrants. The Affordable Care Act expressly bars undocumented enrollees, but the Biden administration – the immigration-industrial complex's best friend – granted the state a waiver to include people here illegally for the sake of "health equity."

A century ago, immigrants from Europe came to America to make new lives. Here in New York, they moved into Lower East Side tenements, several families to a flat, took care of themselves and contributed to the city's future.

In the 1960s, Dominicans moved here in a wave and settled Washington Heights, where apartments were cheap. They too became a major force in the Big Apple.

Immigration is still a part of this city's and this nation's future. But housing migrants in luxury hotels and providing services Americans can't afford for themselves is the wrong idea. It will cause resentment.

Hotel America must be replaced with common sense, bare-bones accommodations – a roof over their heads. Anything more will lure migrants with crazy expectations and make the crisis worse.

Betsy McCaughey is a former lieutenant governor of New York.

Twitter: @Betsy_McCaughey

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Posted: January 17, 2023 Tuesday 08:32 PM