A plan by New York City officials to send some migrants seeking asylum to hotels in northern suburbs was met with fierce resistance by local leaders, leading to a delay in an initial transfer that had been touted for Wednesday even as the city insisted its plans hadn’t changed.
Mayor Eric Adams had caused an uproar north of the city by announcing Friday that the city would send north up to 300 single, adult men to two hotels in suburban Rockland County and neighboring Orange County for up to four months. The Democratic mayor’s plan comes as the city struggles to deal with a surge of about 60,000 asylum-seekers since last spring, many of whom were bused to the city by out-of-state governors.
New York City officials had intended to move forward with at least part of the plan and send “a small number of asylum seekers” to Orange County on Wednesday, Adams spokesperson Fabien Levy said in a statement.
But by the end of the day, no migrants had arrived at the hotel, identified by Orange County officials as the Crossroads Hotel in the Town of Newburgh, about 60 miles (97 kilometers) north of the city.
In another statement, Levy said they were “discussing legal and safety concerns with our state partners, and while we have paused tonight, our plans have not changed.”
The administration pledged to provide food and services to the men. But local officials accused Adams of doing the very thing he complained governors were doing to the city: busing out asylum-seekers without properly alerting the municipalities where the people were headed.
“It was a sneak attack in the dark of night,” Orangetown Supervisor Teresa Kenny said at a news conference Wednesday.
The confrontation comes as cities across the nation prepare for an increase in migrants seeking asylum when a pandemic-era policy that permitted the expulsion of many migrants ends Thursday.
Kenny said her Rockland County town secured a temporary restraining order stopping the Armoni Inn and Suites from taking in asylum-seekers as its lawsuit progresses. That’s in addition to emergency declarations in both Rockland and Orange counties designed to block hotels or motels from housing migrants.
Rockland County Executive Ed Day said the county was pursuing its own litigation and that the hotel’s operating permit expired April 30.
A call seeking comment was made to the Armoni Inn.
In his initial statement, Levy said , “we need the federal government to step up, but until they do, we need other elected officials around the state and country to do their part.”
Levy claimed that Day, a Republican, has failed to show “humane and compassionate care.” Day said local opposition stems from the city unilaterally pursuing an ill-conceived plan that will strain local resources.
“The plan is short-sighted, universally opposed locally and will only endanger the lives of our residents,” Day said.
Camille Mackler, the executive director of Immigrant ARC, a coalition of legal service providers, said officials at all levels of government deserved blame for a response she characterized as chaotic and inefficient.
“We need to have a better coordinated response,” she said, “and one that centers the humanity and dignity of everyone involved instead of continuing to use their lives as political pawns.”
The Adams administration has already been using hotels within the city to house some migrants, mainly families with children. Plans to house others at sites — including a cruise ship terminal and a beach parking lot in the Bronx — have been abandoned.
Associated Press writer Jake Offenhartz contributed from New York.