Democrats Form a Circular Firing Squad
An the award for best headline of the week goes to ...envelope please...Dan Henninger!
Oh, that great cartoon down there. All Snitzer baby. I found that. Watch and learn Daniel.
Democrats Form a Circular Firing Squad
New York’s migrant crisis is proving that even in blue states, misgovernance has limits.
By Daniel Henninger
Sept. 6, 2023 4:57 pm ET
Wonder Land: The mutual Democratic destruction taking place in New York among Mayor Eric Adams, Gov. Kathy Hochul and President Joe Biden over the migrant crisis is proving that even in blue states, misgovernance has limits. Images: AP/AFP/Zuma Press Composite: Mark Kelly
The idea of circular firing squads in politics is usually associated with House Republicans. But we may never have seen anything like the circle of mutual Democratic destruction taking place in New York among Mayor Eric Adams, Gov. Kathy Hochul and the party’s nominal leader, President Joe Biden.
The issue is illegal migrants and the so far unanswerable question is where to put the more than 107,000 who have poured into the city the past two years. With migrants, New York is no longer a sanctuary city. It’s a Democratic battleground.
New York’s Democrats want the migrant problem fixed, because if it festers, disgusted state voters likely will elect more Republicans to the U.S. House next year, as they did in 2022 when the GOP won a net gain of three seats. An August Siena College Poll found 82% of New Yorkers consider the migrant influx a serious problem. The Biden White House, apparently, does not. It has stiffed every request for help from New York—as well as from Democratic governors in Illinois and Massachusetts.
Even by the standards of thought-free progressive compulsion, Joe Biden’s southern-border policy never made sense. What other than a crisis did they expect as millions waded across the Rio Grande? But even after the crossings became a domestic-policy debacle, attacked by Arizona’s Democrats, Team Biden let it rip.
For a time, Mayor Adams and Gov. Hochul blamed Texas Gov. Greg Abbott for rerouting to New York City’s Port Authority bus terminal thousands of the migrants who washed up in Texas. But the Abbott excuse has faded. The New York blame game has become an internal party feud.
It’s common to say New York City is in trouble because it’s a “sanctuary city.” But the city is in a special ring of migrant hell because it is the only city in the U.S. that has a so-called right-to-shelter mandate, itself the result of another historic progressive fiasco.
During the 1970s, New York was a leader in the movement to “deinstitutionalize” psychiatric hospitals and facilities for the mentally ill. The theory, for better or worse, was that the mentally ill should be cared for and medicated by community outpatient facilities.
That promise of community care was empty. Almost immediately, the mentally ill homeless proliferated on the streets of New York in the early 1980s. Naturally a lawsuit followed and naturally a New York court ruled that under the state constitution, the city was obliged to provide temporary housing to any homeless person who asked for it. Across 40 years, the city has been unable to house the mentally ill. Now the migrants arriving in New York, supported by the city’s activist lawyers, have claimed this right to shelter and been granted temporary housing.
An irony: The city is erecting migrant tent cities on the grounds of the long-abandoned Creedmoor Psychiatric Center in Queens. Policy failure begets policy failure.
The Adams administration estimates that by 2025 it will spend a mind-boggling $12 billion on the migrants. But despite the migrants and the Covid economic downturn, the city has been signing new labor contracts with public unions that will contribute to a budget deficit of nearly $14 billion by 2027.
A startling image from the crisis this summer was hundreds of migrants sleeping on the sidewalk in front of the historic Roosevelt Hotel, blocks from Grand Central Terminal. For weeks, residents of Staten Island have gathered almost nightly to protest the housing of migrants in a closed Catholic school. With no Republican available for even pro forma blame, New York’s Democrats have turned on each other, including the incumbent president.
“This crisis originated with the federal government,” Gov. Hochul said two weeks ago. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas returned fire with a letter accusing the state and city of a litany of “structural” migrant mistakes. He offered a list of federal migrant-housing sites, including one in Atlantic City, N.J. The GOP should have a 2024 political ad in the works with Mr. Mayorkas saying the border is closed, not open or secure.
Mayor Adams, after criticizing the White House for months (“We need an emergency action down at the border”), attacked Gov. Hochul for not compelling upstate counties to house migrants. That would be the parts of New York that tend to vote for Republicans. The governor’s lawyers cracked back with a 12-page letter dumping on Mr. Adams’s migrant efforts but offering their own housing site list—all inside the city, such as Aqueduct Race Track.
The chances are zero that the White House will acknowledge that its border policy, or nonpolicy, is responsible for an intraparty crisis. Gallup’s late-August poll put approval for Mr. Biden on migrant policy at 31%. New York’s Democrats are left with not much more than standard-brand buck passing. Republican House candidates watch and wait.
We may live in an era of personality-driven politics, but New York is proving that even in a blue state, the tolerance for misgovernance has limits.