Legal battle over migrant crisis in Hudson Valley moves to federal court

The county's lawsuit against New York City Mayor Eric Adams, who sent the migrants there is bogged down in state Supreme Court.

Ben Nandy

Sep 20, 2023, 9:33 PM

Updated 304 days ago


As disputes over migrants brought from New York City to Hudson Valley hotels are held up in court, News 12 is revisiting the hot button issue, four months since the migrants arrived.
Orange County officials' legal battle against two town of Newburgh hotels that are housing a total of around 186 male asylum seekers is being moved to federal court.
The county's lawsuit against New York City Mayor Eric Adams -- who sent the migrants to Hudson Valley counties -- is bogged down in state Supreme Court of Orange County.
The county wants to force the city to abandon plans to send homeless migrants here and keep hotels from accepting them.
An injunction granted by the court prevents any more migrants from being sent from New York City to the Hudson Valley and allows the migrants who arrived in mid-May to stay.
The court also ordered New York City officials to pay for the migrants' hotel rooms indefinitely, not just for their first four months as Mayor Adams originally planned.
Orange County Attorney Rick Golden told News 12 in an email Wednesday that county leaders have tried to talk out the problem with Mayor Adams' staff, with no success.
"The County Executive has had occasional communications with the Mayor and his staff, both directly and indirectly, regarding the ongoing issue of the City attempting to illegally relocate the influx of its homeless migrants and asylum seekers to Orange County and elsewhere," Golden wrote. "None of these conversations have been fruitful in resolving the problem."
Some asylum seekers staying at local hotels were hesitant to speak on-camera with a News 12 reporter Wednesday but described a struggle common among newly arrived asylum seekers.
The men said they have about 60 days before they become eligible for work authorization from the federal government.
To accumulate any money over the last four months, they have been seeking off-the-books construction jobs from contractors they meet outside local hardware stores.
Gov. Kathy Hochul has pressured the federal government to lift its requirement that asylum seekers must wait six months from the date of their asylum application before receiving permission to work.
County and town officials have voiced concerns about community safety, public health and crime in recent months, though Golden said county officials "have fortunately not experienced to date the significant health and safety issues experienced by some other counties who received larger numbers of the City's homeless."
Golden said that is likely because the injunction has prevented any more migrants from coming to county hotels.
Some immigrant advocates with experience resettling refugees and asylum seekers hope for a change in attitudes in the community toward the migrants.
"Closing the doors would be bad for people," Pastor Fernando Salazar, of Kingston, said when reached on FaceTime Wednesday afternoon.
Salazar, who leads 2nd Iglesia La Mision, has helped resettle hundreds of Central American immigrant families in Ulster County over the last six years.
Many of the families are indigenous Guatemalans, all from the same remote village, who started arriving in Kingston in early 2018.
Salazar warns against preconceptions that immigrants are more likely to commit crimes than people of other origins.
He told News 12 he wants community leaders and local officials to recognize the possibilities in a more immigrant-friendly atmosphere, especially in terms of the worker shortage.
He said many of the Central American immigrants he has assisted have skills in farming, construction and cooking.
"There's a lot of need," Salazar said. "I see a lot of restaurant businesses -- they're closing down because they don't have enough people to work inside the kitchens."
A spokesperson for New York City’s Housing Development Corporation said in an email the city has a one-year contract with medical provider DocGo to assist the migrants, with an option to extend afterward.
The spokesman also said case managers are continually working to connect migrants with legal services, and that Mayor Adams' office has been calling on the federal government to expedite work authorization.

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