Eric Adams is Borough president of Brooklyn. He aspires to be mayor of New York City. But he wants to serve only the folks he considers real New Yorkers. And real New Yorkers, in Adams’ estimation do not include transplants from places like Iowa and Ohio.
Adams used an event commemorating Martin Luther King to make it clear that Americans from elsewhere in the country are not exactly welcome in the Big Apple. “Go back to Iowa, you go back to Ohio!” he told migrants from the Midwest. “New York City belongs to the people that was (sic) here and made New York City what it is.”
The alleged sin of those flyover state transplants is that they have the unmitigated chutzpah to want a voice in how the city is run and what government priorities ought to be. Iowans and Ohioans are “folks who [are]not only hijacking your apartments and displacing your living arrangements, they displace your conversation and say the things that are important to you are no longer important. And they decide what’s important and what is not important,” railed Adams.
Leaving aside the fact that Adams’ sentiments are the exact antithesis of what Dr. King preached, imagine the ruckus that would have ensued if he had demanded that the 40 percent of New York City residents who were born, not in other states, but in other countries, get the hell out. It would have generated front page stories, indignant editorials, street protests, and demands for Adams’ resignation – and properly so. Instead, the New York Post and a couple of local TV stations were the only news outlets to even take notice.
Needless to say, citizens have an unassailable right to settle anywhere in the U.S., including the five boroughs of New York. Ironically, however, Adams touched on some of the very reasons why settling in the United States is a privilege, not a right for noncitizen. Immigration laws (at least in this country) do not exist because of animus toward foreigners. Rather they exist because large-scale immigration, legal and illegal, has a profound impact on the lives of people in the receiving society. It affects every aspect of their lives, both positively and negatively.
Properly regulated, immigration can complement what “was here,” bringing new energy, and new vibrancy to the receiving society. Unregulated and unlawful, it can impose enormous burdens on the receiving society, affecting everything from the cost of housing, to jobs and wages, quality of education, and public safety, to name just a few.
The fact that New York actually encourages the settlement of people who move there illegally from other countries, and who often have more of say in setting priorities than citizens do, may be a prime reason why the people who “made New York City what it is” are fleeing the city in droves.
If Adams does wind up as New York City’s next mayor, Frank Sinatra’s New York, New York, may have to be dropped as the city’s unofficial theme song. After all, Sinatra was a migrant from New Jersey.