New York City will soon launch a $53 million pilot program to hand out pre-paid credit cards to migrant families housed in hotels, according to a report.

The New York Post, citing city records, reported that 500 migrant families at the Roosevelt Hotel will receive pre-paid cards to help them buy food. The program is intended to replace the current food service provided there, the Post reported.

“Not only will this provide families with the ability to purchase fresh food for their culturally relevant diets and the baby supplies of their choosing, but the pilot program is expected to save New York City more than $600,000 per month, or more than $7.2 million annually,” a spokesperson for New York City Mayor Eric Adams told the paper in a statement.

City Hall did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

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The pre-paid cards may only be used at bodegas, grocery stores, supermarkets and convenience stores. Migrants eligible for the program must sign an affidavit stating they will only spend the funds on food and baby supplies, or else they would lose access to the funds, the report said. 

The amount available to each migrant family depends on their size and how much income they are receiving, according to the contract reviewed by the Post. A family of four might be provided nearly $1,000 each month, or $35 per day for food, the Post reported. The cards are replenished every 28 days. 

New Jersey company Mobility Capital Finance has partnered with the city to run the program.

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“MoCaFi looks forward to partnering with New York City to disburse funds for asylum seekers to purchase fresh, hot food,” MoCaFi CEO and founder Wole Coaxum told the Post. “MoCaFi’s goal is to expand access to financial resources for individuals excluded from banking, such as asylum seekers, while helping the local economy.”

City officials said that if the pilot program is a success with the initial 500 migrant families, it will be expanded to all migrant families staying in hotels, which is 15,000 currently.

More than 150,000 migrants have arrived in New York City since 2022, overwhelming city resources as officials have struggled to find housing for them. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has bused asylum-seekers to New York and other cities in an effort to assist them in traveling to sanctuary jurisdictions and also highlight the crisis that border communities face on a daily basis. 

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Mayor Adams has decried the arrivals as a humanitarian crisis and said that providing food and housing for the migrants will cost the city about $12 billion over three years. 

In October, the mayor traveled to Latin America on a tour to dissuade potential migrants in Mexico, Colombia and Ecuador from attempting to come to the city, saying the city is “at capacity.” 

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Critics, however, have said that New York City’s sanctuary policies and handouts to migrants will only encourage more immigration.

“If I were promoting an event and wanted to attract the biggest possible crowd without worrying about losing money, I’d make admission free and give everyone complimentary pizza and beer,” Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs, a Tennessee Republican and former WWE wrestler, posted on X, commenting on the New York Post report. “That’s kinda immigration policy right now.”

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