Amid New York state’s migrant crisis, Broome County Executive Jason Garnar recently blocked the use of New York City-issued housing vouchers.
Earlier this month, Garnar signed an emergency order to prohibit the vouchers, originally distributed through New York City’s Family Homelessness & Eviction Prevention Supplement program. According to Garnar, the executive action was taken because of the county’s growing housing crisis. The order is an extension of a May-issued emergency declaration, which prohibited businesses and municipalities from engaging with outside entities to provide accommodations to migrant communities without permission.
In this month’s press release, Garnar reiterated a lack of county resources and housing capacity, as well as prioritizing the needs of local citizens.
“The situation has not changed in Broome County since May,” Garnar wrote. “We have a very limited number of places for our own residents to live, both temporarily and long-term. Beyond that, our human resources system is at capacity and our health care system continues to be pushed to its limit in the wake of [COVID-19]. The limited resources we have are for Broome County residents first and foremost.”
The migrant crisis in New York state has endured for months despite pleas for more assistance from state and federal governments.
In the wake of the expiration of Title 42, a pandemic-era policy that allowed immigration authorities to turn away asylum seekers to Mexico due to public health concerns, Broome County is not the first to reject measures that attempt to mitigate migrant displacement. In a May statement, Orange County Executive Steven Neuhaus criticized New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul for their lack of involvement amid the crisis.
“The process has been a disorganized disaster, and the blame lies with the Mayor of New York [City], who originally opened the door for as many undocumented immigrants as possible to his self-proclaimed sanctuary city and the governor,” the statement read. “She has sat back and done nothing as this crisis has negatively impacted New York state.”
Earlier this year, U.S. House Republicans passed the “Secure Border Act,” which would resume the construction of the Southern border wall, one of the focal points in former President Donald Trump’s administration. In May, both parties were concerned about the end of Title 42. While the bill was approved, Democrats called the act an ineffective measure to address the border issues.
After Garnar’s original executive order, other local lawmakers followed suit. In July, Rep. Marc Molinaro, who represents the 19th congressional district, unveiled the “Schools Not Shelters Act.” As his first independent bill, this effort would prevent Hochul from housing migrants in SUNY dormitories and K-12 schools. In a statement, Molinaro expressed doubts about the impacts of allowing migrants to reside in upstate counties like Broome.
“There is nothing compassionate about bussing migrants from the southern border to New York City and then to upstate New York,” the statement read. “All to live in an area they’re unfamiliar with and in schools that are ill-equipped to serve as migrant shelters. Our children, upstate New York residents and the migrants seeking a better life, deserve much better.”
Daniel Watson, a senior majoring in biology, added the importance of immigrants to American society.
“A lot of people don’t recognize this country is built on immigrants, and they continue to be an enriching part of our community,” Watson wrote. “People all over benefit from their presence, and I think many forget that.”