ALBANY, N.Y. — Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano didn’t know that 40 migrant families were being bused from New York City to a local Ramada Inn last week until his police force told him about the move.
There was no call from city or state officials to discuss how to provide services, care and schooling to the asylum-seekers.
“This is a crisis. We all need to share in it. I get it. I’m not looking to make the refugees’ lives any more difficult than they already are,” Spano, a Democrat, said Tuesday. “But to those just shipping people to places and then somehow think their mission is accomplished, it’s not.”
Mayor Eric Adams continues to send migrants to other parts of New York with little advanced warning, including to communities where the local governing boards have approved states of emergency to try to block the effort. Rockland, Orange and Onondaga counties are all in court trying to reverse the city’s efforts, saying the hotels are flouting local ordinances.
The battle is a microcosm of the immigration fight across the nation, and it is also testing the strong relationship between Adams and Gov. Kathy Hochul, who local leaders are pressing to take a larger role in trying to intervene in the bussing of migrants outside the city.
Local leaders accused Hochul of doing little to try to stop Adams, a fellow moderate Democrat, from sending hundreds of migrants to other parts of the state, which they said has created confusion and a lack of a cohesive plan statewide.
“What I told her is that he’s acting like he’s the president of New York state,” Rockland County Executive Ed Day, a Republican, said he told Hochul in a private call recently. “I didn’t want to be insulting to her, but he needs to have his wings clipped because he has created the problem. He has made it impossible for us to work together.”
Adams has contended that as many as 5,800 migrants are arriving in the city each week now since the Title 42 federal immigration policy expired earlier this month, and that’s on top of the 65,000 migrants who moved to the city over the past year. He stressed the city is simply running out of room.
“We believe the entire state should participate in a decompression strategy,” Adams said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday. “And it’s unfortunate that there have been some lawmakers in counties that are not carrying on their role of ensuring that this is a decompression strategy throughout the state.”
City officials have been communicating with local governments when they plan to move migrants to other communities — and are paying the cost of their housing, Adams’ spokesperson Fabien Levy said. He noted Adams had a call with county executives earlier this month to plead for their help.
“We are out of space. New York City has done and will continue to do its part, but we need counties, cities and towns across the state to do their part as well, especially when New York City is willing to pay for shelter, food and more,” Levy said in a statement.
Hochul has publicly sided with Adams’ plight, but has also suggested that the state is trying to identify “welcoming communities” to house migrants, in addition to finding state and federal facilities — such as SUNY campuses or a federally owned Brooklyn park — where they can live. The state budget includes $1 billion to help the city address the crisis.
In a speech Monday alongside Adams in Brooklyn, Hochul urged solidarity to address the migrant issue, saying that “parts of our country and our state who are enacting bigoted policies based on fear and intimidation, join us. Join us. Let people know the true story of what New York is.”
Still, some county leaders said the issue is that they are ill-prepared to deal with more residents, particularly if it requires them to find programs and services for the newcomers.
Dutchess County Executive William O’Neil said he received no advanced notice when at least two buses came over the weekend bringing about 80 migrants to a Poughkeepsie hotel. The county had issued a state of emergency to try to thwart the city’s move, but the buses came anyway — and now it is suing to get a temporary restraining order against the hotel.
O’Neil, a Republican, said part of the problem is that the city is negotiating directly with hotel owners, so local governments aren’t necessarily aware of the deals.
“The deceitfulness and the secretiveness and the refusal to respect the local municipalities is off the charts,” he said Monday. “And that’s the city of New York and the state of New York. Both of them.”
While the migrants have moved mainly to the New York City suburbs, the effort might be expanding to other parts of the state.
Nick Paro, the Republican town supervisor of Salina in Onondaga County outside Syracuse, said he did receive a call from a city official in recent days that migrants were likely on the way to a local hotel. Now he’s planning to sue to block it.
He blamed the Big Apple for being a sanctuary city that is now trying to push its overflow of migrants onto other municipalities.
“Their only solution is take this problem and dump it into other communities, and completely disregard what communities’ stances are on this?” he asked. vJust because they created this crisis doesn’t mean it needs to be my town or community’s crisis.”
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