Major U.S. city expands costly food-debit-card program to thousands of aliens

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By Rebeka Zeljko
Daily Caller News Foundation

New York City officials are expanding a program providing migrant families living in city-funded hotels with debit cards to buy food, according to the New York Times.

The program, which was proposed in February and initially provided services to nearly 3,000 migrants, will now distribute debit cards to 7,3000 migrants at a combined cost of approximately $2.6 million over the next six months, according to the NYT. New York City has taken in more than 200,000 migrants over the last two years, and the influx has forced the city to make budget cuts.

The program previously worked with three hotels to house migrants, but has now expanded to include 17, which could serve about 1,200 migrants per month, according to the NYT. The debit cards have digital coding that ensures they can only be used in specific stores, and participants pledge to only use them to purchase food or baby supplies.

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New York City must provide food to migrants under its right-to-shelter requirement, which was originally implemented to house the homeless, the outlet reported. The migrant families eligible for the debit cards are participating in the city’s 28-day voucher program for emergency shelter.

The $2.6 million program is cheaper than a  previous program that was suggested, which would have cost taxpayers $5.6 million, according to the NYT.

“I appreciate that this is cheaper than a failed system of no-bid contracts, but this is a sign that the migrant crisis is here in perpetuity and the taxpayers are on the hook until the second coming,” Joseph Borelli, the Republican minority leader in the City Council, told the NYT.

The city has a contract with Mobility Capital Finance, which could cost up to $53 million, the NYT reported. The city had relied on DocGo to provide services to migrants, but its $432 million contract with the city fell through in April following allegations that it wasted food and gave migrants false paperwork.

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