Big Tent Ideas

WILLIAM O’REILLY: Joe Biden Takes A Bite Out Of The Big Apple

(Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP) (Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images)

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William F. B. O'Reilly William F. B. O’Reilly is a Republican strategist from New York. 
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When you’ve lived in New York City for 1,000 years or so, you get a pretty good feel of the place. The city has its own unique smells, sounds, and rhythms — particularly Manhattan — and Gothamites can usually sense when something’s off. It’s a special spidey sense that all urban dwellers share.

My antenna went haywire early one evening last week while walking to Grand Central Station along the forlorn streets of the West 30s. There was a tingle in the air and it quickly traveled down my spine. It said: potential danger ahead.

Garment District cross streets are typically all but abandoned after 6 pm on workdays, but I could feel people lurking in the shadows just ahead. It was too late to cross the street without offending, so I marched warily forward.

There were three of them huddled alongside the steps of an old brownstone to my right, and they were anything but scary. The father couldn’t have been more than 25; the mother even younger, and in her arms, wrapped and re-wrapped in thick blankets, was a baby of no more than six months. The temperature was dropping. (RELATED: BETSY MCCAUGHEY: How To Save New York)

The heart reels in circumstances like that, even for the most battle-hardened New Yorkers. The rule of thumb is not to give money — it will likely buy a bottle or worse — but that kid and his parents got to me.

I was about to walk back and hand them a bill, when I ran across another couple with an infant just 20 or 30 yards from the first. And right after them was another, this time with two school age children. As I neared Grand Central there were people huddling on virtually every block.

If I had to guess, and I’d pretty much bet my life on it, these were migrant families that had recently arrived in New York from Central or South America. More than 140,000 of them have landed in the city since last year, and there’s simply no place to put them.

Two emotions collide when witnessing such scenes, sympathy and fury — sympathy for the plight of the families and fury over the liberal policies that put them on our streets.

Liberalism is almost always well meaning, but it has a nasty habit of making things worse. Today’s New York is a case in point, and responsibility lies squarely in the lap of President Joe Biden’s immigration policies. Even Democrat New York City Mayor Eric Adams says so, and he foolishly supported making Gotham a sanctuary city.

Biden’s policy is capitulation, and that’s no policy at all. Two and a half million migrants crossed the U.S. border this year — a record number — and millions more are preparing to trek north. Thousands are arriving in New York each week. Where on earth are they going to live? (RELATED: WILLIAM O’REILLY: How To Ruin A Thriving City In Less Than A Decade)

The U.S. needs more workers, no doubt. The country can’t compete internationally without additional entry-level employees, but throwing open the gates to the country willy-nilly is downright asinine. In so many cases, we have no idea who we’re letting in. Didn’t we learn that lesson?

I decided to swing by the old Roosevelt Hotel on East 45th Street before catching my train, the smell of New York’s 1,500 or so illegal pot shops perfuming the streets and avenues along the way. The hotel, named for President Teddy Roosevelt, not FDR, has special significance. My uncle Jack hosted a Sunday radio program with Guy Lombardo from its lobby in the 1940’s, and the Manhattan Republican headquarters, where I once worked, operated out of the building for more than 60 years.

I wish I hadn’t. The Roosevelt, permanently shuttered during the pandemic after a 100 year run, now houses 1,000 migrant families, with about half that number seemingly spilling onto its sidewalks. Young, single homeless men glare at passersby from their perch. The spidey sense screams.

This is what Joe Biden has done to New York. This is his legacy. It’s infuriating.

William F. B. O’Reilly is a Republican strategist from New York.

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