In a reversal of his predecessor’s policy, Mayor de Blasio has quietly stopped requiring immigrants’ sponsors to repay the city if the people they helped go on welfare.
De Blasio is also refunding close to $1 million to 250 New Yorkers who were compelled to cough up money under the policy, according to budget documents released last week.
Most of the refunds are going to sponsors who are relatives of the immigrants they sponsored, officials said.
The payback policy stems from a 1997 federal law, which requires sponsors of immigrants to sign a contract saying they are financially responsible if the people they sponsored accept some public benefits.
The feds didn’t enforce the law, and no city adopted the policy until New York took it up in 2012 under Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The city gave low-income sponsors, victims of domestic abuse, asylum seekers and refugees a pass, along with recipients of food stamps and Medicaid.
Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Lilliam Barrios-Paoli said the de Blasio administration ended the paybacks in February because it was “wrong.”
“These people are our neighbors. They pay taxes. And they deserve better,” said Barrios-Paoli.
The rest of us pay taxes, too, and we deserve better than to have freeloaders brought here to mooch off us. When my immigrant ancestors came here, they also were required to have sponsors that would be financially responsible for them if they couldn't work so they would not become burdens of the state. Why did that change?