The Republican conferences in both the state Assembly and state Senate have introduced legislation to address problems stemming from the bussing of migrants from the U.S.-Mexico border to New York City.
Thousands of migrants have been sent to New York City in the past year, from places like Texas and Florida, due to its status as a sanctuary city. The city has struggled to house and process the incoming migrants. Recently, New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ administration has clashed with officials from nearby counties after attempting to send several hundred migrants to Orange and Rockland counties.
The recently passed state budget included $1 billion in “extraordinary funding” to provide services and help with migrant resettlement. One bill introduced by Assembly Republicans would mandate oversight of that funding through governor reports and state Comptroller audits.
Another proposal by Assembly Republicans would require migrants to undergo background checks as their asylum process proceeds. The U.S. Refugee Admission Program already requires security screening and background checks, according to the United States Citizenship and Immigrations Services website.
“New York City, a long time ago, made a decision they wanted to be a sanctuary city and now they’re struggling to deal with this issue and are trying to push it on to many of our counties,” said Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay, R-Pulaski.
Gov. Kathy Hochul issued an emergency executive order earlier this month to bolster the state’s efforts to help New York City with the influx ahead of the expiration of Title 42, which ended the COVID-19 restriction on asylum seekers.
The Republican minority leaders in both houses criticized Hochul and President Joe Biden for what they see as a lack of leadership on the issue. Even Democratic state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, of Yonkers, told reporters Tuesday she would like to see more collaboration with the federal government.
“The federal government needs to be better partners in this situation,” Stewart-Cousins said. “There has to be more interaction and more collaboration on the federal level — all of us have to be able to work together to deal with this crisis.”
State Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt, R-Lockport, criticized New York state’s decision to declare itself a sanctuary state while failing to also develop a plan to address any issue stemming from an influx of asylum seekers.
“We were not prepared for this,” Ortt said in Albany Wednesday. “I call on the president and [Adams] to come up with a real plan and be honest with New Yorkers about who’s going to be displaced, who’s going to pay for it. What’s it going to cost New Yorkers — the ones who pay the bill?”
Republicans in both houses introduced similar bills that would protect vulnerable populations, such as homeless veterans and domestic violence victims, living in temporary housing from being displaced by housing migrants. One bill would also prohibit the housing of migrants in school gyms, a method currently being used in New York City.
“We’re looking at school gymnasiums or jail for people who are looking for a better opportunity because of a failure of a real plan from the federal government,” Ortt said.
Democrats hold the majority in both houses and it is unlikely the bills will pass before the end of the legislative session on June 8.