Long Island Passes Ban on Allowing Migrant Housing Until Measures are Put in Place

Anne Spollen

The Suffolk County Legislature voted 11-6 to hire an attorney to investigate how the county can block migrants from New York City being sent their way. Suffolk County Executive, Steve Bellone, issued an emergency order Friday night not to ban migrants, but one that calls for the county to work with the state before their arrival. New York Governor, Kathy Hochul, has neither confirmed nor denied if Stonybrook University will be included in a plan to temporarily house migrants.

The emergency order is most likely in place to allow the state to house asylum seekers at New York state-run facilities in the future. No migrants currently occupy them. Bellone's order mandates coordination and communication with the state prior to accepting migrants, and it bans any Suffolk hotels, motels, or shelters from accepting migrants until then.

The ban goes into effect as New York City struggles to find space for the 72,000 asylum seekers that have entered its boroughs.

"This city continues to do whatever we need to do to support the asylum seekers, but we have reached a point where the system is buckling," said Deputy Mayor Anne Williams-Isom.

"We took the model that we use at New York City Emergency Management to open up coastal storm shelters and adapted that to provide a temporary place for us to shelter asylum seekers as they are waiting for placement in other facilities," said Commissioner Zach Iscol, New York City Emergency Management.

It is not clear how long the asylum seekers will require taxpayer-funded housing. They are permitted to stay in the US until their immigration case is heard, and that could extend anywhere from months to years.

"We need a national decompression strategy. We need more sites outside of the city and we need more coordination assistance and financial support from the federal government," Williams-Isom said.

While some counties are resisting accepting migrants without a coordinated plan, legal battles are brewing in other areas of New York. The New York Civil Liberties Union is currently in federal court in White Plains suing Rockland and Orange counties. Both counties issued executive orders to block asylum seekers.

Governor Kathy Hochul stated it's disappointing that parts of New York state are not welcoming, but she understands that counties want notice and coordination in place before the migrants arrive.

At a May 31 press conference in downtown Brooklyn, the governor stated, communities should remember “where their parents and grandparents came from.” She added, "I do believe in what this state stands for. The reason we are the great state we are is because of the people who came through the doors or came to our shores for generations.”

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Native Staten Islander, writer following the migrant crisis, urban issues, lifestyle topics, human interest, current events, and stories that resonate. Published novelist and essayist.

Staten Island, NY

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