President Joe Biden’s order Tuesday could mean fewer migrants moving to New York City and Long Island. Credit: Newsday

Fewer foreign migrants moving to New York City and Long Island could be an imminent local outcome  of President Joe Biden’s order Tuesday throttling illegal crossings at the Southern border.

Biden's announcement of the looming federal restrictions came as the city has surpassed a milestone: 200,000 migrants processed into the homeless shelter system since the local crisis began in spring 2022. Tens of thousands remain in shelter.

The order takes effect at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, assuming a court doesn’t block it altogether. There will still be a lag to the extent its ripples are felt locally — because the migrant journey between the Southern border and New York takes time, sometimes a week via bus.

“It should have a downstream effect in New York and other major cities, but we won’t see it immediately. It’ll take a while to be carried out, and it also depends how many people the Border Patrol actually apprehends, versus how many escape and come in,” said Cornell Law School professor Stephen W. Yale-Loehr, who co-authored the treatise “Immigration Law & Procedure” and also codirects a clinic at the university to help people apply for asylum. He added of the Biden order's potential effect: “It could be significant, but we won’t know for a while how significant.”

Some immigration advocates predicted the order would lead to fewer migrants eventually moving to Long Island.

“It would certainly affect people who’d be arriving here in the next year or so,” said Patrick Young, a professor of immigration law at Hofstra Law School.

For more than two years, New York City has been the flashpoint in the metropolitan region's struggle with an unending influx of migrants from Latin America and other regions. Until earlier this year, when a court loosened the rules of a decades-old legal settlement, the city was required to provide indefinite room and board to anyone in need.

On Tuesday, Mayor Eric Adams — who in the past has said the migrant crisis “will destroy New York City”; his chief adviser, Ingrid Lewis-Martin, urged the federal government to “close the borders” —  welcomed the order.

“200,000 people entered our city, 200,000 people,” Adams said. “Larger than other cities, 200,000. Whatever could be done to slow the flow … I’m all for.”

Last week, about 1,200 more migrants came to the city, said Anne Williams-Isom, Adams’ deputy overseeing the crisis. Adams has said the crisis has already cost the city billions.

Andrew Arthur, a fellow with the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates for stricter immigration enforcement, predicted the flow of migrants to the metropolitan area would continue to some degree, particularly because migrants, like others, tend to tap existing networks established in the city, such as families.

Still, Arthur said, there would likely be some decline.

“If I had to ballpark a figure,” he added, “I’d probably say it might cut the weekly flow by about 10 to 15%.”

Predicted Elise de Castillo, executive director of CARECEN, a Hempstead- and Brentwood-based organization that provides free legal services and education to new immigrants: “The impact of this measure will be felt across the United States, including on Long Island. But, most importantly, it will be felt by those immigrants outside of the United States.”

Under Biden’s order, migrants can be returned back across the border into Mexico or their country of origin within days or even hours. The new policy swings into action once the rolling average of illegal crossings, over seven days, reaches 2,500 daily. Since recent totals have already topped that average, the restrictions are expected to go into effect almost instantaneously.

It would be a change from the status quo, under which those who cross the border illegally and declare asylum are typically freed and allowed to live in the United States to await their legal proceedings.

Newsday has reported that most migrants are unlikely to file for asylum, and even among those who do, few of those claims, which take years to be processed, are likely to be successful: being poor and wanting a better life is not a legal basis for asylum. An unknown number of migrants are likely to remain in the United States,  living illegally, regardless of the outcome of the legal proceedings.

Yale-Loehr said migrants will still be able to cross into the United States at ports of entry. There are exceptions as well, such as unaccompanied minors and those who can show an immediate fear of torture if turned away.

And some migrants may decide to sneak into the country.

“Smugglers may direct people to other parts of the border where they think they can get through without being detected by the Border Patrol,” Yale-Loehr said, “but those areas are probably more dangerous, so we may see more deaths from people trying to cross the border.”

The order will have no effect on the hundreds of thousands who have come already, whether via ports of entry, illegally crossing the border, overstaying visas or sneaking in.

“It may bring a decline in the number of people coming to the city,” he said, “but each city will still have to deal with the ones who already are here.”

With Vera Chinese and Scott Eidler

Get the latest news and more great videos at NewsdayTV Credit: Newsday

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