Stec moves to block SUNY sites as migrant residences
By Gwendolyn Craig
New York City’s influx of thousands of asylum seekers could be headed upstate, leading some Adirondack Park counties, including Warren, Saratoga and Fulton, to issue emergency declarations. Republican lawmakers are also proposing housing limits and legislation.
Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul is hoping to expedite work authorizations for asylum seekers to address thousands of open jobs upstate. Her request to the federal government has the support of the New York Farm Bureau, which also called it a Band-Aid to the greater problem. She is also considering using State University of New York campus housing for temporary residences for migrants.
But Hochul’s workforce hopes are not comforting some local government officials.
Warren County Board of Supervisors Chairman Kevin Geraghty issued a state of emergency on Tuesday, concerned an influx of people with no planning could cause strain on the county’s emergency, social services and health services. The order requires hotel, campground and short-term rental owners to obtain permission from the Warren County Board of Supervisors to host immigrants. It also opens up some funding assistance from the state and federal government, according to a news release.
The emergency order lasts until June 22 “unless rescinded or extended by further declaration.”
The emergency order states: “it is anticipated and expected that the City of New York shall unilaterally relocate migrants by bus … to Warren County for an uncommunicated and unknown period of time without any prior communication, coordination, planning and management within the County of Warren.”
The county, which is 932 square miles and includes popular tourist destinations like Lake George, has also formed a task force should asylum seekers arrive. The task force includes representatives from social services, the health department, office of emergency services, sheriff’s office, planning and community development, Glens Falls Hospital and Hudson Headwaters Health Network.
State Sen. Dan Stec, R-Queensbury, proposed legislation on Monday that would prohibit asylum seekers from being housed in SUNY dormitories. There are several SUNY campuses in the North Country including North Country Community College in Saranac Lake. SUNY Plattsburgh, SUNY Potsdam, SUNY Adirondack and Fulton-Montgomery Community College are also not far from the park’s blue line.
“If New York City, home to millions and recipient of extra funding, can’t handle the influx of migrants, there’s no way SUNY campuses and upstate New York are equipped for it,” Stec said in a release. “Passing this crisis onto our taxpayers and our communities is unacceptable.”
Stec and 19 other Senate Republicans also called on state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli to issue “a full accounting of taxpayer dollars being used by the state to respond to the migrant crisis.” The state’s $229 billion budget lawmakers passed at the beginning of the month, included reimbursement funds of around $1 billion to New York City for asylum seeker costs.
The joint letter to the comptroller said: “While New York City has chosen to be a sanctuary city and has been more than willing to accept the influx of migrants from the southern border crisis, few other municipalities in the state have made such a designation. As such, the rest of the state should not be subjected to the inability of New York City to provide care to these individuals.”
Hochul declared a state of emergency for New York earlier this month after Title 42 expired, a portion of the Public Health Service Act allowing the federal government to restrict immigration during a public health emergency. It was in effect during the COVID-19 pandemic and expired earlier this month. Since then, New York has received over 71,000 asylum seekers, according to news reports.