State lawmakers are at odds with New York’s migrant policies

ap migrant crisis

How New York should respond to the thousands of migrants arriving in the state highlights the political divide seen nationally on the issue.

For Democrats, lawmakers this week backed Gov. Kathy Hochul’s push to allow migrants seeking asylum in the US a chance to work more quickly. Meanwhile, Republicans are criticizing plans to move migrants out of New York City and, in some cases, from possible State University of New York campuses.

Either way, the national debate over migrant policy is now part of New York politics.

Democratic state Rep. Pat Fahy and dozens of her colleagues urged President Joe Biden this week to act on expedited work permits, echoing a call by Hochul earlier this month.

“There are thousands, thousands of entry-level positions that are open right now,” Fahy said.

Fahy’s call comes as New York faces an influx of migrants, resulting in a scramble for housing spots and a series of emergency orders by local officials aimed at barring migrants from communities outside of New York City.

“For someone to wait 180 days, you’re almost creating problems and I think that’s fueling some of the resistance,” he said. “I was appalled to see some of the comments. We are New York. We have a history of being a welcoming state.”

New York City Mayor Eric Adams first proposed moving migrants to upstate communities this month. Fahy believes upstate communities should welcome the opportunity to fill retail and farm jobs.

“They’re also looking to upstate New York to help,” he said. “But it’s much easier to help if asylum seekers are able to work.”

But on the other side of the problem is a battle for housing. Hochul is considering state public college and university campuses as temporary housing. A decision has yet to be made on which campuses will be used, but Hochul said all state properties are being considered, including former psychiatric facilities.

Republican Senate Minority Leader Robert Ortt calls it a bad idea.

“College students come back to these campuses in August. It’s almost June,” Ortt said. “You only have two and a half months. I don’t know what solution will manifest itself in two and a half months.”

Ortt this week proposed housing the migrants at convention centers in New York City, a plan that Democratic officials have not supported.

“I think that’s where they wanted to be and move them for two months at a time – I don’t know that that’s a better answer for migrants, it’s not a long-term plan,” he said.

Ortt said it’s a broader failure of the federal government, dating back decades, that has caused states like New York to address the problem.

“I don’t think anyone can argue that it’s the failure of border policy that has led, in part, in part, to this crisis,” he said.

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