The Profiteering Migrant-Industrial Complex

By Betsy McCaughey Published on December 20, 2023

This week, New York City Mayor Eric Adams warned of “extremely painful” cuts to city services to offset the money going to shelter and feed migrants. But even worse is how the money is being wasted. Migrants complain the prepared meals delivered to them three times a day — including chicken alfredo, beef enchiladas and even special halal meals for Muslims — aren’t to their liking or aren’t hot enough. They’re throwing the food away.

Thousands of dollars’ worth of meals are landing in dumpsters. It’s an insult to taxpayers and every family that scrimps to afford groceries.

Worse, taxpayers are paying rip-off prices for these meals, eaten or not.

Crisis Profiteering

The only winners are the ever-expanding migrant-industrial complex — the advocates posing as do-gooders while they profiteer off a crisis.

DocGo, a company with a no-bid contract to shelter and care for migrants, is allowed to bill the city up to $11 per meal, or $33 a day per migrant. That adds up to $3,960 a month for a migrant family of four.

That’s four times what a needy American family of four gets under Uncle Sam’s SNAP food assistance program.

Is it because migrants’ meals are prepared? No. Prepared meals for airline passengers — supplied by companies such as Flying Food Group and Gate Gourmet — cost about $4 for economy class, less than half the cost of migrants’ meals. Charging $11 is price gouging.

Migrants complain about rotten food. The worst rot is inside the Adams administration’s handling of this emergency.

Under a 1981 court-enforced agreement between New York City and advocates for homeless people, the city must provide every homeless person with shelter and “access to three nutritional meals a day.” Applying this to people who arrive on the city’s doorstep from other countries is absurd and should be challenged. Until then, complying with the agreement does not require providing plates of meat and potatoes served up hot.

Under the 1981 agreement, the city could give migrants vouchers or debit cards to pay bodegas, fast-food outlets and street vendors. Migrants staying at the Roosevelt Hotel can be seen bringing in bags of food after they’ve trashed the city-provided meals. The current meal service is a scam draining the city’s resources while enriching the burgeoning migrant care industry.

Taking New York Taxpayers for a Ride

Long before the migrant crisis, shelter operators were already taking New York taxpayers for a ride. In 2021, the New York Post detailed how the CEO of CORE Services Group, a nonprofit with multimillion-dollar contracts with the city, made over $1 million a year for himself under the veneer of running a charity. He set up for-profit subsidiaries to provide food, security services and building maintenance, which paid him and his family members hefty salaries.

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The migrant crisis gives profiteers an opportunity to go in for the kill. At a New York City Council hearing last March, an Adams administration official was asked why meals for migrants cost so much more than meals provided to homeless New Yorkers. The slick answer was that “emergencies are going to cost more.”

It costs $394 per day to shelter and feed a migrant, compared with $254 for homeless New Yorkers under the care of the Department of Homeless Services. More than 50% more than already inflated costs.

Fix the Rot

Migrants complain about rotten food. The worst rot is inside the Adams administration’s handling of this emergency.

Who is going to fix this? Not the city’s comptroller, Brad Lander. He suggests more of the money spent on contracts should go to “minority and women-owned businesses.” Spreading out the spoils.

Look to federal law enforcement. In October, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York charged the CEO of a nonprofit — Childrens Community Services — and his business associate of operating a $50 million network of “fly-by-night companies” that bought meals, furniture and other goods from vendors, marked them up and made a killing at the taxpayers’ expense. That was under the previous mayor’s watch.

Now the stakes are higher, as thousands of migrants arrive weekly. Instead of making “extremely painful cuts” to the services all New Yorkers rely on, Adams should take a hatchet to the profiteering migrant-industrial complex. If Adams won’t, the feds should move in.

 

Betsy McCaughey is a former lieutenant governor of New York and chairman of the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths. Follow her on Twitter @Betsy_McCaughey. To find out more about Betsy McCaughey and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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