A Republican county executive in upstate New York wants New York City Mayor Eric Adams to stop busing undocumented migrants into his community as a means of easing the ongoing struggle to accommodate the influx at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Adams, in his first term as the city’s mayor, has been facing a crisis since states began shipping tens of thousands of migrants to Democratically controlled cities as a message to President Joe Biden’s administration over its handling of the border.
To offset some of the stress on the city, Adams has reportedly been sending some of the migrants to facilities outside of New York City—including as far as the Canadian border—as members of city council have been embroiled in a debate over migrant relocation facilities like the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, which some have called inhumane.
“Our goal is to help asylum seekers who wish to move to another location,” Kate Smart, a New York City spokesperson, told Radio-Canada in a February interview about the program.
At least one local leader is pushing back.
In a news release Friday afternoon, Rockland County Executive Ed Day, a Republican, and Rockland County Department of Social Services (DSS) Commissioner Joan Silvestri called on New York City to cease busing migrants into the upstate county, saying the new arrivals are already creating unprecedented strains on the area’s schools, food pantries, housing and social services.
According to the release, the request comes shortly after a phone call between an area town supervisor and Adams suggesting plans to house 340 adult males in an area hotel for four months, with plans to secure work permits necessary to integrate them into the community.
However, Day argued that the work permits they would be seeking typically require at least six months to obtain, raising concerns that the city would be unable to follow through with its plans.
Since governors in states like Texas and Florida began sending migrants north to cities like New York last year, places like Rockland County have had to accommodate the overflow, leading to sharp increases in the number of children in foster care, shortages at the local food pantries, and a sizeable increase in the number of students enrolled in a local school district with no additional property taxes to fund it.
“This is absurd, and we will not stand for it,” Day said in a statement. “There is nothing humanitarian about a Sanctuary City sending busloads of people to a County that does not have the infrastructure to care for them. It’s the same as throwing them in the middle of the ocean with nowhere to swim.”
Reached for comment, a spokesperson in Adams’ office referred Newsweek to a previous statement about the program, saying the area’s mayors have already been contacted regarding the resettlement plan.
“Despite calling on the federal government for a national decompression strategy since last year, and for a decompression strategy across the state, New York City has been left without the necessary support to manage this crisis. With a vacuum of leadership, we are now being forced to undertake our own decompression strategy,” Adams said in the statement.
“This new, voluntary program will provide asylum seekers with temporary housing, access to services, and connections to local communities as they build a stable life in New York state. New York City continues to step up and handle this crisis, and this new program is an extension of our compassionate response, but these actions do not mean we still don’t need urgent action, including a national decompression strategy, financial resources, expedited work authorization, and real immigration reform from Congress.”
It’s not the first time New York City has been accused of pushing its issues to other regions. For years, leaders have been criticized for running programs providing people experiencing homelessness with one-way bus passes out of the city, similar to its migrant relocation program.
In 2019, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration was sued by the nearby city of Newark, New Jersey, accusing officials of coercing more than 1,100 residents of homeless shelters to move into apartments that Newark officials claimed were illegal and had no heat or electricity.