Immigrants in New York City earn about $100 billion in total income — or about one-third of the city’s total earnings, according to a recent report from city Comptroller Scott Stringer’s office.
Stringer highlighted as much during a community forum last week, juxtaposing that earning power to President-elect Donald Trump’s suggestion that his administration would cut billions in federal funding to New York because of its status as a so-called “sanctuary city” — one that does not use city resources to enforce or prosecute people who are in the country without authorization.
“Without the immigrant population of New York there wouldn’t be an economy to speak of,” Stringer said at the meeting, held at the Youth Hostel on Amsterdam Avenue on Jan. 11 and attended by about 100 people. “As Democrats, we need to talk about the practical impact people of diverse backgrounds have on New York City — at the end of the day, diversity produces better economic results.”
According to the report, the city is home to more than 3.3 million immigrants from more than 150 countries. Together, they own 83,000 businesses, and comprise 51 percent of city business owners.
Stringer said he tweeted the report’s results to Trump. At the forum, Stringer said “we should be tearing down the walls and letting in as many people in — because that’s what builds the economy.”
He also cautioned that if the Trump administration does withhold federal funds to the city, the resulting shortfall would fray the city’s safety net, as well as cut into affordable housing initiatives and increase homelessness.
“If they strategically cut those dollars then we have to somehow piece together half of a city agency,” he said.
Stringer said that could add up to the most severe financial crisis since the 1970s when the city went nearly bankrupt. Given those stakes, Stringer said, “It’s important that New York City and New York State stop arguing and start strategizing.”
Stringer said it was important that heads of the city’s social agencies work closely with congressional delegates to figure out what money can be allocated from where to close any resulting financial gaps.
He also encouraged those in attendance to help rebuild the Democratic party by, in part, doing a better job of communicating why liberal ideals were in the best interest of the nation. For example, he said, a pro-immigrant stance is also a economically sound one, as demonstrated by the report’s determinations.
Cynthia Doty, president of Three Parks Independent Democrats, which hosted Stringer’s discussion, said she appreciated Stringer’s viewpoint and the report’s conclusions.
“It didn’t surprise me, but it was good to see the numbers. It’s important to have the facts,” Doty said. “The new administration doesn’t seem to care about facts — if they read them at all. It’s important for us to read it and spread the word about it.”