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NYC launches $53 million illegal immigrant debit card program

The Empire State Building in New York City. (Mark Bonifacio/New York Daily News/TNS)
March 27, 2024

New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ administration started providing illegal immigrants with pre-paid debit cards on Monday as part of a $53 million pilot program that is intended to cover the cost of daily food and baby supplies for illegal immigrants.

According to The New York Post, the distribution of the pre-paid debit cards comes two months after the city agreed to a $53 million no-bid contract for the pilot program with Mobility Capital Finance, a New Jersey company.

A City Hall spokesperson confirmed to The New York Post that Mobility Capital Finance staff members distributed eight pre-paid Mastercards at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City on Monday and that 115 pre-paid debit cards should be distributed by next week.

According to The New York Post, New York City’s original plan of giving illegal immigrants a monthly pre-paid debit card has been changed to require illegal immigrants to have their debit cards reloaded each week. A City Hall spokesperson said that an illegal immigrant family with two parents and two children under the age of five would receive approximately $350 per week.

READ MORE: NYC giving $53 million to illegal immigrants in pre-paid debit cards

The pilot program will provide pre-paid debit card funding to roughly 460 of the 64,500 illegal immigrants that currently are being supported by the Adams administration, according to The New York Post. Kayla Mamalek, an Adams spokeswoman, has claimed that the pre-paid debit cards could ultimately save the city money by replacing the city’s current system of giving non-perishable food boxes to illegal immigrant families, which are “often discarded.” The city has estimated that the program could save up to $600,000 each month.

The mayor’s office previously explained that the pre-paid debit cards can only be used by illegal immigrants at grocery stores, supermarkets, bodegas, and convenience stores, according to Fox News. The pilot program will also require illegal immigrants to sign an affidavit and agree to only purchase food and baby supplies with the pre-paid debit cards.

“A large part of our success is due to our constant work to find new ways to better serve the hundreds of individuals and families arriving every single day, as well as the longtime New Yorkers experiencing homelessness who are already in our care,” a city hall spokesperson said in a statement to Fox News. “That is why we are excited to launch an innovative, cost-saving pilot program with Mobility Capital Finance to distribute pre-paid cards to migrant families to purchase only food and baby supplies.”

According to Fox News, the pre-paid debit card program could potentially provide illegal immigrants with more money from New York City than the state provides to elderly and low-income residents through SNAP benefits.