NYC officials defend prepaid debit card program for migrants: ‘No free money’

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New York City officials are defending a pilot program that hands out prepaid debit cards to illegal immigrants.

The mayor, deputy mayors and other officials have defended the city’s trial run of the program, saying that the prepaid cards are intended for use purchasing essential supplies and not frivolous handouts.

“There is no free money. These are not ATM cards. You can’t take cash out,” said Deputy Mayor Fabien Levy at a press conference, according to Politico.

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New york CIty Migrants

Single migrant men, mostly from West Africa, congregate in Tompkins Square Park as volunteers give away food and clothing in the East Village neighborhood of New York City. (Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images)

The pilot program is starting off small, with only 10 families receiving the debit cards and with plans to scale up to 115 families soon. 

“We can take a look at it after six weeks and see what’s working and what’s not,” Deputy Mayor Anne Williams-Isom said, according to the Politico report.

A $53 million deal for the program was struck with New Jersey-based Mobility Capital Finance. Families with two children under 5 are slated to receive $350 a week on the cards, according to the New York Post.

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adams at city hall

New York City Mayor Eric Adams arrives at a press conference at City Hall. Adams has defended the prepaid card program and criticized those who have “distorted” its goals. (Luiz C. Ribeiro/New York Daily News/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

New York City Mayor Eric Adams himself pushed back on accusations that the prepaid debit cards 

Adam was asked Tuesday if handing out the prepaid cards to migrants while simultaneously urging incoming arrivals to go someplace else sends a “mixed message.”

“It sends a mixed message when it’s distorted,” Adams said.

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migrants new york city

A view of the street as immigrants who cannot find work and struggle to survive selling clothes and other used goods on the streets of Queens in New York. (Lokman Vural Elibol/Anadolu via Getty Images)

The first batch of debit cards, which are reportedly meant to be used by the illegal immigrants to purchase food and baby supplies, were handed out Monday to a handful of migrant families in the city, the mayor’s office previously confirmed with Fox News Digital.

The effort is part of a reported $53 million pilot program to hand out prepaid credit cards to migrant families housed in hotels despite public outcry.

Fox News Digital’s Kyle Morris contributed to this report.


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