CATSKILL — Legislature Chairman Patrick Linger declared a State of Emergency in Greene County on Wednesday in the wake of New York City’s decision to relocate and house a portion of its immigrant population in upstate communities.
“If it were allowed for the city of New York or other municipalities to simply flood the county with persons in need of services, as described in the related declaration, this crisis would only worsen,” according to the order.
Immediately following the State of Emergency proclamation, Linger issued a related declaration banning Greene County municipalities and county hotels and motels from transporting or housing migrants without his written permission. Individuals or entities violating the Emergency Order will face civil penalties of up to $2,000 per asylum-seeker for each day of the violation.
“We don’t have the resources to pay for all this here,” said Legislator Harry Lennon, D-Cairo. “We’re not a real rich town. We don’t have a hospital, we have volunteer fire departments, we have paid and volunteer ambulances and basic numbers in our law enforcement. We’re not set up to take illegal immigrants and house them. We understand that New York City is going to pay 120 days in hotels, but what happens when they come to Catskill and start asking for social services? We’re not even talking about the medical part of it. We’re not set up for this. Our taxpayers in the end are going to take a beating on this.”
Linger had told lawmakers he planned to put the Emergency Order into effect at 7 a.m. Thursday with a subsequent Executive Order for businesses, but, at the urging of Legislators Matt Luvera and Michael Bulich, both R-Catskill, Linger declared the State of Emergency effective immediately. An attachment to the order followed the meeting, Lennon added.
Greene County on Thursday distributed hard copies of the order to local hotels and motels. Catskill Inn Manager Parnaath Varma said Greene County Sheriff Pete Kusminsky himself delivered the order to the hotel.
Varma also said that, as of Thursday, he had not received any inquiries from New York City regarding the reservation of rooms for asylum-seekers. He said that he had not checked his email and that perhaps the owner of the inn had received an inquiry.
Best Western Desk Manager Harold Henderson said he had heard about the Emergency Order but was not aware of the hotel receiving orders from the sheriff. His assistant at the desk showed Henderson the hard copy, which the assistant said had been delivered to the hotel in the morning.
Henderson said he had not communicated with the owner about how to handle the situation if a busload of immigrants pulled up to the hotel. He said if the event were to occur he would call the owner.
The desk manager at the Holiday Inn Express in Coxsackie said he had been instructed not to respond to reporters’ questions on the matter.
Many other New York counties have declared states of emergency in response to the immigrant crisis including Rensselaer, Orange, Oneida, Oswego, Rockland, Orleans, Genesee and Onondaga.
Every member of the state Senate Republican Conference signed a letter to Gov. Kathy Hochul requesting better communication between the governor’s office and municipalities.
“We also request that information about potentially moving migrants is communicated from you or your administration directly to the municipalities. With that, local elected officials should have the option to decline hosting migrants in their communities should they not have the necessary accommodations and resources. This local option is imperative to ensuring local municipalities are held harmless and are adequately prepared,” according to the letter.
Last week U.S. Reps. Marc Molinaro, Mike Lawler and Pat Ryan, who represent districts in the Hudson Valley, called on the federal government to provide resources and support to alleviate the impacts of the crisis.
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