Statement of the Greene County Legislature
May 15, 2023 – Catskill, NY – On May 9th, the Governor’s office issued a press release announcing a new executive order to deploy more than $1 billion in taxpayer monies to boost support for asylum seekers entering New York City after federal funding under Title 42 expired on May 12, 2023. The implications of this order are causing significant concern among rural county officials. The arrival of increased numbers of migrants seeking shelter in the City and State of New York is expected to exacerbate an already large-scale humanitarian crisis and create a disaster emergency to which local governments are unable to adequately respond, creating a threat to health and safety, which could result in the loss of life or property. Asylum seekers have been flowing into New York City since it declared itself a ‘Sanctuary City’ following changes to US immigration enforcement policy.
Most rural counties like Greene are not equipped to handle an immigration influx. Transferring the responsibilities that NYC has as a Sanctuary City to rural upstate counties is wrong and amounts to human trafficking. Greene County already has a housing and homeless crisis and we’re out of capacity to house our own homeless population. We do not have the physical rooms or supporting capacity to house an influx of asylum seekers. Greene County does not have a city or large urban area with the typical inventory of buildings and supporting services. Greene County does not have a homeless shelter or congregate facilities capable of temporary housing.
In addition, supporting capacity is also insufficient. Greene County does not have a hospital, and emergency room beds at Columbia Memorial Hospital are frequently full causing diversion to Capital District hospitals which increases wait times. Emergency medical transportation is limited as are specialty medical centers which are also typically located outside the county. While the County has a public transportation system its routes and times are limited, and there are few private transportation services. Social services capacities are already over-taxed and food pantries are over-burdened.
It would be inhumane to knowingly send asylum seekers here out of desperation. Without proper consultation, funding, resources and housing capacity, we would have no choice but to put asylum seekers who require significant services back on a bus to the closest Sanctuary City, such as Albany, Kingston, or Hudson. This is an example of how lack of planning at the Federal and State levels are causing emergency actions and forcing unfriendly relations between counties.
Greene County is not a “Sanctuary County” and firmly stands in opposition to the shipment of asylum seekers from NYC to Greene County.