It’s the political third rail that Democrats don’t want to touch: A surge of more than 100,000 migrants over the last 18 months into New York City, thousands of miles from the southern border, filling homeless shelters, overloading city services, and fueling outrage on the covers of the New York Post and the Daily News, alike. Mayor Eric Adams, the ambitious and scandal-prone Democrat who was once viewed as a rising star in the party, recently called it a humanitarian crisis that will cost some $12 billion to solve over the next three years.
Of course, the bigger problem occupying the minds of many Democrats is the emerging political crisis placing House minority leader Hakeem Jeffries in the middle of a fight being waged by Adams and Governor Kathy Hochul—who are publicly demanding federal funds, lands, and work permits for migrants—against Joe Biden, who presumably sees it as a political loser on the precipice of an election year. “No one wants to go near the story,” said a source in the Democratic caucus. “It’s like crime; Republicans see that it will work. They talk about it every single day and it starts to enter the public consciousness, right or wrong.”
What’s more awkward for Jeffries is that the intraparty fight is being waged within broadcast transmissions of the suburban and central New York congressional districts that cost Democrats control of the House (and Jeffries the speakership) in 2022—when outrage over rising crime, botched bail reform and defund-the-police rhetoric generated a mini red wave. And now there’s alarm over a new Cook Political report stating that four of the six swing districts that Jeffries has to flip to win back the House—the seats held by Anthony D’Esposito, Mike Lawler, Marcus Molinaro, and Brandon Williams—are “Republican toss up,” meaning close to 50-50 odds, but more likely to remain in the G.O.P. column. Another of the six, the seat held by Mike LaLota, is rated as “Likely Republican.” Only the seat held by George Santos, in Long Island, is expected to “Lean Democrat.”