Gov. Hochul defends NYC migrant busing program: ‘It’s not always going to be perfect’

Tribune Content Agency

NEW YORK — New York Gov. Kathy Hochul on Tuesday defended New York City’s efforts to bus asylum-seekers upstate, after a weekend migrant transfer to a town near Albany drew a lawsuit and scathing criticism from the town’s supervisor.

She said New York City officials are “working very hard” to provide shelter and services to about 45,000 migrants, describing the groups being shipped north as comparatively small.

“We’ve been encouraging them to give as much notice as possible to county executives,” Hochul said of city officials. “Given the scale of that number of people affected, it’s not always going to be perfect.”

On Saturday night, 24 migrants from New York City arrived at a SureStay Plus Hotel by Best Western outside Albany, in the town of Colonie, according to the town’s government.

It sued New York City in Albany Supreme Court over the weekend to halt the city from transporting any more migrants to the town. A judge granted a restraining order preventing transfers for now.

Colonie charged in court papers that New York City “made no attempt to communicate” with the town on its transfer plans.

Town Supervisor Peter Crummey also issued a statement describing the SureStay Plus Hotel as a “hotbed of police activity” and accusing New York City Mayor Eric Adams of paying “no heed for the welfare of the persons subject to his forced busing catastrophe.”

Asked for comment for this story, mayoral spokesman Fabien Levy pointed to a previous statement on the issue saying New York City “has done and will continue to do its part, but we need counties, cities, and towns across the state to do their part as well.”

The Albany County legal move came against the backdrop of lawsuits filed this month by two Hudson Valley counties, Rockland and Orange, in so-far successful bids to halt the city from sending migrants to hotels in their communities.

Rockland County has not received any migrants, according to the Adams administration, after it secured a temporary court order earlier this month barring city transports to hotels there.

In its lawsuit, Rockland County said the city’s plan would “quadruple” the county’s homeless population and strain its “already limited resources.”

Armoni Inn and Suites, a Rockland County hotel that had been expected to house asylum-seekers and was named in the lawsuit, said in a filing that the county has “racist motivations.”

And New York City said in court papers that city officials have made “extraordinary efforts to respond to the exigent needs of tens of thousands of asylum-seekers, and has done so in compliance with state law.”

But on Tuesday, a judge extended the temporary restraining order for transfers to Rockland County for at least two more weeks, according to Rockland County Executive Ed Day’s office.

In the Orange County case, a hearing was scheduled for June 21.

At a news conference in suburban Buffalo on Tuesday, Hochul said that “people are saying ‘the sky is falling’ before anything has even happened.” The governor said a Sunday transport of about 40 asylum-seekers to an Albany hotel was “going very well.”

Hochul, a Democrat, said she is focused on keeping the migrants safe and pressuring the federal government to expedite work authorizations for the newcomers.

More than 70,000 migrants have arrived in New York City since last spring, according to a city tally, as political upheaval in Venezuela and Nicaragua spills refugees into the U.S.

Hochul said the migrants “have a right to seek asylum in this country based on what they’ve had to endure in their home countries.”

“They simply want to have a chance to work and receive legal asylum,” she said.