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Adams’ Border Epiphany Shows Why Sanctuary Laws Are a Disaster

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

New York City Mayor Eric Adams made a trip to the southern border recently to bring attention to the needs of his city, which has been overwhelmed by illegal aliens. This episode has forced Adams to see the inescapable truth: sanctuary laws are a house of cards that cannot support the consequences of their lofty but highly flawed rhetoric. 


Adams warned that illegal immigration has pushed the Big Apple “to the brink,” and demanded more federal money and resources for the city. Like many other prominent liberals, Adams had long dismissed the border crisis, and has touted New York’s status as a sanctuary city. Now, Adams appears to have seen the light. Thanks to red state governors, led by Texas’ Greg Abbott, New York has been forced to live up to its status as a sanctuary city, and it has not gone well.

The city’s social services have been deluged by the influx of illegal aliens. In recent months, Texas has bussed tens of thousands of illegal aliens to New York, and other big sanctuary cities, including Washington, D.C., Chicago, and Philadelphia. This has outraged leaders in those cities who have spent their careers promoting anti-border policies, and scoffing at the damage illegal immigration has done to the U.S. 

After the initial rounds of buses began arriving in New York, Adams lashed out at Abbott, and threatened to sue the state of Texas. Abbott did not relent, however, and the buses kept coming. Now, Adams is directing his ire at the Biden Administration, demanding that they reimburse his city for the costs it has incurred due to illegal immigration.

"We’re pointing the finger … at our national government," Adams said during his border visit. "This is a national problem. We must have real immigration reform, and we must immediately have a short-term fix of making sure that the cost of this does not fall on our local cities." 


When the mayor of America’s most lawless sanctuary city is snapping at the federal government over its anti-border policies, that tells you just how bad things have become. Of course, Adams is likely not upset because he personally cares about U.S. sovereignty and border security, but because the lack of those things are costing his city a lot of money. 

New York City has lost $2 billion as a result of the influx of illegal aliens, according to Adams. This has drained resources from schools, shelters, hospitals, and police departments in a city where many U.S. citizens are struggling with crime and homelessness. New York advertises itself as a sanctuary city, but it’s clear that they cannot afford to put their money where their mouth is. The bussing program has exposed the big lie that mass immigration enriches America. As we see in New York, illegal immigration makes us all poorer and less safe. 

While many of New York’s sanctuary policies were in place well before Adams took office, he must take his fair share of responsibility for the decline of his city. In addition to boasting about New York’s sanctuary status, Adams supported legislation allowing noncitizens in the city to vote, legislation that the Immigration Reform Law Institute has been proud to fight against in court. Despite running as a law-and-order candidate, Adams has only doubled down on New York’s lawless immigration policies. Now, as his city is overrun by illegal aliens, he has declared that there’s “no room at the inn.” 


If Adams has had a genuine epiphany on the issue of illegal immigration, he has an opportunity to be a catalyst for positive change. A leading voice in his party, he could advocate for a border wall, asylum reform, and more deportations. But, so far Adams has shown no regret over his anti-border record. If the mayor truly wants to alleviate the suffering of his city, the best way to do that is not to continue to beg and grovel for money from the White House, but to boldly advocate for reforms that could end the crisis. 

Dale L. Wilcox is executive director and general counsel for the Immigration Reform Law Institute, a public interest law firm working to defend the rights and interests of the American people from the negative effects of mass migration

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