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Williams, Stefanik want details on state’s plans on migrants

Alexis Manore
Staff writer
email / twitter
Posted 5/26/23

Rep. Brandon Williams has drafted a letter to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security regarding Gov. Kathy Hochul’s plans to send asylum seekers who arrived in New York City to upstate counties. 

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Williams, Stefanik want details on state’s plans on migrants


UTICA  — Rep. Brandon Williams, R-22, Sennett, has drafted a letter to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security regarding New York Gov. Kathy Hochul’s plans to send asylum seekers who arrived in New York City to upstate counties. 

Williams sent the letter to Alejandro Mayorkas, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, on Friday, May 26.

He was joined in signing the letter by fellow Republicans Rep. Elise Stefanik NY-21, Schuylerville; Rep. Anthony D’Esposito NY-04, Hempstead; and Rep. Nicole Malliotakis NY-11, Staten Island. 

In the wake of the expiration of Title 42, a federal policy that allowed the U.S. to turn away asylum seekers to reduce the spread of COVID-19, federal officials are claiming that there has been a steady decline in the number of migrant arrivals in the U.S. since Title 42’s expiration because of new, stricter rules on asylum eligibility. 

Despite this, New York City has been reporting a steady increase in migrant arrivals. In response, Gov. Kathy Hochul declared a state disaster emergency and rolled out plans to bus asylum seekers from the city to upstate counties.  

This move prompted swift backlash from county officials, including those from Oneida, Herkimer and Madison counties, which all issued emergency orders to block the transportation or housing of bussed migrants in the counties. 

These counties cited similar reasons for issuing these orders: a lack of capacity and resources, and that the communities are not prepared to house these migrants and properly meet all of their needs. 

As of May 25, Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. has not received any communication about plans to send migrants to the county. 

“We believe that New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York Governor Kathy Hochul are doing an egregious disservice to their offices and to the people of New York, particularly to the people of Upstate New York, by dictating mandates to our local governments to accept illegal migrants into our communities,” the letter stated.

“We will do everything in our power to hold illegal aliens to meaningful immigration standards and due process,” the Republicans letter added. 

Under U.S. law, anyone has the legal right to request asylum if they reach U.S. soil. If a person claims asylum, they are screened to see if they have a credible fear of prosecution in their homeland, and then their case goes to the immigration court to determine if they can stay in the U.S.

This process can take years, and the asylum seekers are often released into the U.S. to wait.  

While the migrants may have entered the country illegally, they are within their legal rights to ask for asylum once they have reached the U.S.   

In the letter, the representatives presented Mayorkas with a list of questions, requesting that he provide answers within 30 days of his receipt of the letter. In the list of questions, the representatives repeatedly used the term “illegal alien” which is no longer in use by the government, citing its dehumanizing and demeaning nature. 

Among the questions: 

  • What is the total number of migrants who have entered the country illegally who have arrived in New York since Jan. 20, 2021?
  • What is the total number of immigration court dates assigned to these migrants?
  • Which courts are their cases being heard in?
  • What are the dates that their cases are being heard?
  • How many immigration hearings for these recent arrivals have occurred in New York since Jan. 20, 2021?
  • At how many of these hearings did the migrant fail to appear?
  • How many ICE arrests and removals have there been in New York since Jan. 20, 2021? 

“We believe that your ability to provide this information is critical for preserving stability in our local communities and we believe that it is imperative for national security reasons that both federal and state governments cooperate in restoring rule of law in our immigration system,” the letter stated. 

The letter does not acknowledge the fact that over 50% of farmworkers in New York state are undocumented. The dairy industry is the state’s largest agricultural sector, but there is no visa process for migrants who work on dairy farms year-round. Dairy farms in the state rely on the work of Mexican and Guatemalan workers, according to a Cornell University study. 


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