NY lawmakers rush to blur the difference between legal and illegal immigrants


State lawmakers are looking to set aside $2.1 billion in this year’s budget for an “Excluded Workers Fund” to grant unemployment benefits to illegal immigrants and former inmates.

Covering ex-cons, who were excluded from added federal jobless payments amid the pandemic, has some favorable arguments. Not so the rush to blur yet another line between legal and illegal immigrants.

The fund would cover those ineligible to receive stimulus or weekly unemployment checks under the various COVID-relief laws, doling out an average of $12,600 to 275,000 workers across the state — 87,000 ex-cons and 187,000 undocumented workers.

But the two groups aren’t remotely the same: Ex-cons have paid their debt to society; anyone can see the case for the state making up for the feds’ unfair exclusion of them.

Illegal immigrants, on the other hand, are in ongoing violation of the law of the land: They’re not supposed to be here, let alone be working. Many deserve our sympathy, but it’s unfair to grant them rights as if they were the equals of those who worked their way through the legal immigration system.

In some ways they get more rights: Since it can be dicey for an illegal worker to prove his or her work history, the Legislature is also looking to dole out these checks without proof of past employment that everyone else must show to collect unemployment.

Progressives increasingly believe that the border should be wide open, that anyone and everyone should be free to move here and enjoy all the benefits of citizenship, including safety-net programs and even voting rights.

But most Americans — indeed, most New Yorkers — don’t agree. Even if they think we should allow a lot more people in legally and shouldn’t demonize those who enter illegally, they want some limits, and certainly don’t think the law-breakers should be held utterly harmless from the consequences of their own actions.

The ideologues are in the driver’s seat, however, so New York state will strive to do just that. If this goes on, no one will have any reason to bother immigrating legally in the first place.

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