A year ago, I wrote about the obvious connection between illegal immigration and homelessness in U.S. cities.

Since then, encounters with inadmissible aliens at the border have remained at more than 150,000 a month, often over 200,000. Of these, perhaps half are being released into the country, either under the charade of a “removal process” under U.S. immigration law or one of President Joe Biden’s many made-up parole-a-palooza programs.

In July 2022, I predicted that some of the released illegal immigrants would “end up on the streets, compounding already dire problems of homelessness.” Without a federal commitment to enforcing immigration law at the border, I argued, “more Bidenvilles are coming to a city near you.”

So, how are things going a year later?

“Eventually, this is going to come to a neighborhood near you,” New York City Mayor Eric Adams told reporters on July 29 after visiting a makeshift migrant shelter at the Roosevelt Hotel in Manhattan.

Sounds familiar.

Adams was apparently surprised to see people sleeping on the sidewalk because there were no beds inside—“people lined up around the block, hurting the businesses there.” The inadmissible aliens he saw had likely been processed hastily at the border and then released by the Department of Homeland Security before being bused or flown to New York by charities using federal grants.

New York’s dense population and high rents make it harder to hide the homeless than in cities more spread out.

With his city’s shelters full, Adams has rented hundreds of hotels and opened dozens of emergency facilities, from churches to parking lots, to house supposed asylum-seekers. He’s even tried to pay private homeowners to put them up.

It’ll never be enough, as he now seems to understand.

In Massachusetts, a liberal state with the same “sanctuary” philosophy on illegal immigration, “makeshift hotels and motels being used as emergency shelters continue to fill up.”

At least one Massachusetts state representative figured it out, observing: “Either we have had a massive spike of homelessness, or the vast majority of these people are illegal immigrants.” Just as in New York, the Massachusetts governor is also hoping that locals will put inadmissible aliens in immigration limbo up in their homes.

Meanwhile, in Chicago, locals have complained of migrants in one high-capacity shelter “loitering, engaging in late-night partying, prostitution, littering, and even fighting with community members.”

Residents are organizing to block a former school from being repurposed as a migrant “respite center,” saying they “are extremely dismayed by the city of Chicago’s inability to control and develop safe parameters around housing migrants that have been transported here from the border.”

Los Angeles, another sanctuary city, is also discovering the costs of open borders. “We do not have infinite resources,” said Mayor Karen Bass’ spokesman. “The city will continue to work with our county, nonprofit and faith partners in the case that Texas continues to send buses.”

California would like to blame Texas for sending a few buses, but the truth is that many of the illegal immigrants being hastily processed and released at the border are from Latin America and the Caribbean, and they want to go where they have networks of countrymen, family, or job prospects. That means they make it to places like New York, Chicago, Miami, Houston, and Los Angeles, one way or another.

Like most blue state sanctuary city officials, Bass would obviously prefer that Texas keep all the people being released into the country under Biden’s policies, but that’s not how it works.

With no idea what to do now, Adams and other city and state politicians are demanding federal bailouts to pay for the costs of housing the illegal immigrants that Biden has allowed in. They also want them to have employment authorization right away.

But while he can command DHS to instantly release aliens on their own recognizance in a Potemkin removal process, Biden can’t give them instant work authorization without the due process of several months. And while Biden can abuse parole authority to let illegal immigrants in, and use Federal Emergency Management Agency grants to buy them bus and plane tickets, he can’t magically produce the money to house them all over the country out of thin air.

He needs Congress for that. Those pesky laws! Until they figure out a way to make us all pay, cities and states have to soak local—rather than federal—taxpayers.

Even without federal money for housing, cities and states can still pass some of the buck to national taxpayers through health programs. New York state’s Medicaid program will cost 10% more this year than last year—a whopping $108 billion—partly because the program will begin covering illegal immigrants over 65 in 2024.

Though state bean counters estimate this will cost $171 million, they should look at the cautionary tale of Illinois, where the initial estimates of providing Medicaid for seniors—a couple of million dollars a year—have ballooned to nearly $1 billion in reality, causing Gov. J.B. Pritzker to cap new enrollments.  

On his sidewalk visit, New York’s Adams told reporters, “We need to control the border.” On that, I agree entirely. What took him so long to get there?

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