By Kelly Mena, published February 7, 2024

“Trying to improve the city’s approach to the ongoing migrant crisis, local lawmakers on Thursday will consider launching an economic and health care survey of asylum seekers. 

City Councilmember Carlina Rivera, who is introducing the legislation, said the two bills are meant to better understand the roughly 175,000 migrants who have arrived in the city over the last two years, nearly 67,000 of whom are in the city’s care. 

“We need to start anticipating our needs as a city a little bit better,” she told NY1 on Wednesday. 

Rivera pointed to an unanticipated uptick in migrant hospital visits last year as a sign the city needs to do a better job at understanding their long-term health needs.

“When we’re looking at our hospitals, we’re seeing more than 30,000 visits to medical centers last year alone for migrant individuals and migrant families,” said Rivera.

Rivera said the workforce survey will be a critical tool for matching migrants, once they have their work authorization, to a job suitable to their skills.

“As employment authorizations continue to happen and as we push for that to be expedited, we also want to plug them into the industries in which they have skills,” said Rivera to NY1. “We know that with education and health care, those are two big industries that are struggling right now with staffing shortages.”

Gov. Kathy Hochul has set up a similar state-level approach, and last Tuesday relaxed some application requirements for state government jobs.

Under the city legislation that will be introduced Thursday, the surveys would be anonymous and conducted annually.”

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