New York Welfare Office Quietly Alters Standards for Safety Net Assistance To Illegal Immigrants

A memo circulated within New York’s welfare offices from the Hochul administration on May 12, 2023, discreetly updated the criteria for qualifying for Safety Net Assistance (SNA), expanding eligibility to include “non-citizens who are considered permanently residing under color of law (PRUCOL).”

“PRUCOL is not an immigration status, but a public benefit category used by OTDA for the purposes of Safety Net Assistance (SNA) eligibility,” the memo clarified, outlining the various types of immigration documentation SNA providers should recognize from migrants.

SNA, designed to offer cash aid to eligible individuals and families facing financial hardship, covers a range of recipients, including single adults, childless couples, children not residing with adult relatives, and families affected by substance abuse.

“Generally, cash SNA is available for a maximum of two years in a lifetime,” OTDA explained. “Beyond that, if eligible, SNA is provided in non-cash forms, such as direct payments to landlords or vouchers for utility companies.”

While estimates suggest around ten percent of New York’s migrants may qualify for or already receive additional SNA benefits, the OTDA did not disclose the exact number of migrants affected by the policy change, according to the New York Post.

Since spring 2022, over 173,000 migrants have arrived in New York City alone, raising the possibility that more than 17,000 individuals could be receiving SNA benefits solely within the city.

Anthony Farmer, spokesman for OTDA, emphasized that SNA payments to migrants represent only a “small portion” of the $4.3 billion allocated by Hochul to address the migrant crisis, “in the absence of new federal aid.”

“At the request of New York City, OTDA made a technical update to allow a small percentage of migrants to receive certain additional support in compliance with state and federal law,” Farmer stated.

However, the welfare expansion has faced criticism from both Republicans and Democrats alike.

Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY) condemned Governor Hochul’s move, describing it as an attempt to attract migrants while burdening New Yorkers who contribute to tax revenues.

City Councilman Robert Holden (D) echoed similar sentiments, calling for an end to what he perceives as excessive handouts.

Responding to the backlash, Hochul spokesman Avi Small blamed Republicans for the migrant crisis, citing the failure to reach a bipartisan deal that would allow President Biden to address border issues.

The revelation of this policy change follows criticism directed at NYC Mayor Eric Adams earlier this month for his proposal to distribute $53 million to migrants through prepaid credit cards.