ITHACA, N.Y.—At this time, Tompkins County “is not currently considering a ban on accepting asylum seekers,” Tompkins County Legislature Chair Shawna Black told The Ithaca Voice.
The position stands in contrast to other counties in upstate New York — including nearby Schuyler, Tioga, and Broome Counties — which have issued a state of emergency and executive orders barring hotels, motels and other temporary lodgings from accepting asylum seekers from New York City.
These decisions came in anticipation of asylum seekers being sent into upstate counties under the orders of New York City Mayor Eric Adams as he cites strained city resources, and a lack of federal support to properly handle the waves of migrants that are expected to arrive with the expiration of Title 42 on Thursday. The policy, invoked by former President Donald Trump in March 2020, permitted authorities at the U.S.-Mexico border to reject migrants without allowing them to seek asylum.
At this time, Black said that “Tompkins County is not aware of any migrants slated to arrive in our community.”
In her statement, Black emphasized that “The welcoming of any asylum seekers must be paired with the swift availability of significant resources from the State and federal governments. The safety of both our community and anyone newly arriving here are paramount — please understand that Tompkins County is approaching this issue with caution.”
“Our staff is aware of the issue and we have been in contact with the State Association of Counties and the Governor’s office to stay informed of the situation across New York,” said Black.
Three congressional representatives from New York State — a Democrat, and two Republicans, including Rep. Marc Molinaro (R -19) who represents Tompkins County — demanded that President Joe Biden declare a state of emergency for New York on Thursday. An emergency declaration would give the state more access to federal resources to handle the surge of migrants that are expected to arrive. Reuters reports that close to 28,000 migrants have gathered at the U.S.-Mexico border. Of the thousands of people amassing at the border, many are Venezuelans displaced by the economic devastation that gripped the country over the last decade, according to the Associated Press.
Adams and other city officials had originally announced last week that they intended to send up to 300 asylum seekers to two hotels, one each in Orange and Rockland Counties, for up to four months of temporary shelter. New York City officials said that they were already caring for over 37,500 asylum seekers, and needed to free up resources as more migrants seeking asylum are expected to arrive. But both Orange and Rockland counties issued states of emergency and executive orders barring hotels and other temporary lodgings from accepting asylum seekers from New York City.
Close to 40 asylum seekers on a bus from New York City arrived at a hotel in the Town of Newburgh in Orange County on Thursday, defying a state of emergency order from its County executive. Orange County Executive Steve Neuhas publicly stated that Adams had told him on Wednesday that no asylum seekers were going to be sent to Orange County in the near future.